Digital Union has released a detailed manifesto along with a 12-point plan on how it will help boost the North East’s creative cluster in 2018 and beyond.
The trade body consulted with its members – creative and digital businesses which include Tombola, W Communications North, NBS and Consult and Design – to find their main pain points.
They cited the shortage of talent and skills, lack of investment, a central business advice and information hub plus uncertainty around the potential impact of Brexit on businesses in the North East.
“Digital Union’s prime aims are to unify, promote, and campaign for the businesses we represent,” said its head Rachel Peacock.
“As such this document sets out an outline of what we see as the key issues we will take on for the next year.
“It is not a policy or strategy document for the North East digital and tech sector, but rather a promise to our members in assisting them to overcome the challenges we have collectively identified.
“As well as our own research, we analysed several national reports and found that talent and skills has overtaken access to finance as the key barrier to growth and expansion.
“We are committed to reducing the skills gaps and encourage greater partnership between the education system on all levels and the businesses we help.
“We see evidence that the companies that actively work with education providers, are the ones that are experiencing the quickest growth. This is a massive issue and we all must take time to help solve it.
“We will continue to work with our partners at the North East LEP and campaign to Government to ensure that post-Brexit, funding is available to continue the sector specific business support we offer.
“The 12-point plan will be rolled out through a range of activities and incorporates various initiatives to help address the pain points such as pushing for greater collaboration, encouraging peer to peer support, tackling diversity and inclusion the North East, and attracting investment to the region.”
The University of Sunderland, a sponsor of Digital Union, welcomed the manifesto and said more collaboration between businesses and educational institutes is key moving forward.
Professor Alastair Irons, Academic Dean for Faculty of Computer Science at the university, said: “Developing career-ready graduates with high level skills is where we excel at the University of Sunderland.
“We run an array of programmes that incorporate the cutting-edge requirements needed to succeed in the digital and creative sector.
“We are also putting significant investment into enhancing our academics, curriculum and facilities to meet the needs of these sectors.”