Manchester Digital a non-profit trade assocation of around 500 digital businesses in the north west of england. Every year they hold elections at their AGM for members of their council who serve for two years. It’s time for me to stand for re-election because my two years is up. Here’s a vote-for-me pitch in 100 words:
Digital skills are crucial to the success of Manchester Digital (MD) but many members of MD struggle to recruit employees with the skills their businesses need. Key questions for MD’s growing membership are how can the skills shortage be met, and what are the responsibilities of employers and educators in addressing the digital skills shortage? As a council member, I would reboot the education special interest group to report thoroughly on these issues at a strategic level. The report would provide an overview of what digital skills young people are likely to have aged 16, 18 and 21+ and what employers can do to bridge the gaps.
If you’re interested in finding out more about Manchester Digital, and hearing from diverse bunch of 18 candidates standing for 6 places on the council, come along to the MD AGM on Thursday 9th July at 5.30pm in Ziferblat (@ziferblatedgest) – where everything is free, except time.
- #DeepDream Inceptionism: Going Deeper into Neural Networks, Google Research blog
- #DeepDream – a code example for visualizing Neural Networks Google Research blog
- Britain faces ‘growing shortage’ of digital skills” Daily Telegraph
- A UK digital skills gap looms, The Guardian
- UK failing to address digital skills shortage, says Lords report, ComputerWeekly.com
Alan Turing Binary code, Shoreditch High Street, London by Chris Beckett on Flickr (CC-BY-NC-ND license)
Over at democracy corner, Manchester Digital is interviewing all of its elected council members. Somehow, I got volunteered to be first interviewee. Here’s my two pence on one of the questions asked: “What do you think is biggest challenge we face as an industry?” (with some extra links)
- Firstly, coding and “computational thinking” , needs to be understood as something that isn’t just for developers, geeks, coders, techies, boffins or “whizz kids” – as the Manchester Evening News likes to call them. Computational thinking, the ability to understand problems and provide innovative solutions in software and hardware, is a fundamental skill that everyone can learn, starting in primary school. As well as being fun to learn and practice, it is a crucial skill in a wide range of organisations in digital and beyond. Thankfully, the new computing curriculum in UK schools has recognised and addressed this, but it remains to be seen what the long-term impact of the changes in primary & secondary education will be on employers.
- Secondly, as an industry, both the digital and technology sectors are seriously hindered by gender imbalance. If only 10-20% of employees are female, then large numbers of talented people are being excluded from the sector – bad news for everyone.
Is that reasonable – or have I missed the point? Are there more pressing issues facing the technology sector? Either way, you can read the rest of the interview at manchesterdigital.com/democracy-corner which will be supplemented with more interviews of council members every week over the next few months.
- Wing, J. (2008). Computational thinking and thinking about computing Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences, 366 (1881), 3717-3725 DOI: 10.1098/rsta.2008.0118
Writing good code is often harder than it looks via Randall Munroe at xkcd.com
Manchester Digital is the independent trade association for the thriving digital sector in the North West of England. Last night they held their AGM and elections for new members of their council. I was encouraged to stand for election, and alongside 19 other candidates, had to give a two-minute “manifesto” in a husting / lightning-talk format. Here’s roughly what I said, from the perspective of software, hardware and developers, with some added links and a bit more polish:
The success of Manchester’s Digital economy is dependent on educating, recruiting and training a pool of talented developers to work in the region. As identified in the Manchester Digital skills audit, developers are often the hardest roles to fill, as many graduates and potential employees are drawn to other high-tech hubs like London, Silicon Fen and Silicon Valley, California for employment.
Addressing this issue is an important for Manchester Digital and requires closer collaboration between Higher education, Secondary education and employers. As a tutor at the University of Manchester, with responsibility for managing internships for students in Computer Science I am in a strong position to enable more collaboration between educators and employers. As a council member I would do this in four ways:
- Encouraging students to consider employment in Manchester as their first job, by promoting internships and graduate vacancies with local organisations alongside traditional graduate programmes at larger multinational companies
- Listening to what employers in Manchester want so that students can be better prepared for the workplace, while balancing the competing needs of training and education.
- Challenging local employers to raise their game to compete with larger employers and attract graduates to work for their organisations
- Inspiring the next generation of scientists and engineers by extending current work with schools and supporting undergraduate students doing outreach work involving Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). For example: through the STEMnet ambassador programme, Code Club, Animation Festival, TeenTech and related work.
These are key activities that will enable the continued success of Manchester’s Digital Economy and I ask Manchester Digital members to vote for me if they agree. Thank you!
Whatever the outcome, the AGM & hustings were great fun and it was good to catchup with old friends and meet some new people too. Hope to see some of you again the Manchester Digital BBQ on 11th July…