How a focus on digital skills could deliver 25,000 local jobs, according to Teesside Uni report
Increasing the digital skills of Teesside’s workforce and businesses is the best way to improve the local economy, says Teesside University.
As the Prime Minister Theresa May announced her Government’s industrial strategy, the university has published its blueprint for the local economy.
The five-point plan aims to support targets to increase start-ups by 25% and create 25,000 jobs by 2025 on Teesside.
The university thinks that the best way to develop good quality jobs is to invest in digital skills now.
In turn, it hopes that will mean Teesside will develop a “national and international” reputation for digital skills – and lead to businesses flocking to the area.
The ‘DigitalCity – Catalyst for Growth’ report sets out five key areas for growth:
1) Supporting digital start-up companies
2) Driving the growth of businesses through digital
3) Transforming sectors with digital knowledge by providing businesses with research and expertise to improve their competitiveness
4) Preparing businesses for the influence of automation and digital supply chains
5) Growing digital skills and talent by giving Teessiders and businesses the digital know-how they need for the future.
Teesside University’s pro vice-chancellor for enterprise and business engagement, Professor Jane Turner, said: “Digital defines the way we do business today.
“For traditional industries, the extent to which they adapt to digital change is a major factor in deciding whether they succeed, stall or fail in the future.
“At the same time, digital is the driving force powering the growth of new businesses and new sectors.”
Business leaders welcomed the plan.
“Teesside University is a driving force behind the digital transformation of the Tees Valley’s economy, playing a vital role in connecting our region to new opportunities and networks,” said Andrew Lewis, managing director of the Tees Valley Combined Authority.
James Ramsbotham, chief executive of the North East Chamber of Commerce, said: “It is clear that Teesside University understands the digital challenge facing businesses in the region and, through DigitalCity, the kind of support they need.
The University’s plan comes as Theresa May launches the Government’s industrial strategy for a post-Brexit Britain – which include a £556m boost for the so-called “northern powerhouse”, an overhaul of technical education and £170m cash for a new emphasis on science, technology, engineering and innovation.
The five local authorities which cover Middlesbrough , Redcar and Cleveland, Stockton, Hartlepool and Darlington – have been handed £21.8m from the Government’s Local Growth Fund.
Redcar and Cleveland Council leader Sue Jeffrey, who is running as Labour candidate to be Tees mayor, said the amount is “only a small step towards the investment the area needs”.