A digital blueprint for Greater Manchester has been unveiled by Mayor Andy Burnham at the DTX tech conference.

Burnham announced an educational revamp that will make IT and engineering essential components of early learning experiences and create a new system in which local talent can be nurtured and offer more routes for young people into the tech industry.

Greater Manchester has set out how, over the next three years, data and technology will play a crucial role in making the city region a greener, fairer and more prosperous place.

Originally launched in 2020, Greater Manchester Combined Authority – along with stakeholders and communities from across Greater Manchester’s digital and tech sector – have come together to refresh Greater Manchester’s Digital Blueprint for 2023-26.

The blueprint has been launched against a backdrop of Greater Manchester’s fast-growing digital ecosystem and economy that is going from strength to strength. Inward investment in Greater Manchester’s tech companies has leapt forward since 2017-8, increasing by over one thousand percent by 2022, and the city-region is in the vanguard of work nationally and internationally in the areas of digital inclusion, AI, security, infrastructure and digital public services.

The blueprint will embed and accelerate that progress, authorities said, outlining five priority areas and four key strategic enablers. 

Priorities include empowering people and communities, enabling a resilient and prosperous economy; and creating connected, inclusive, sustainable places. For 2023-26, emphasis has been put on strategic enablers including building digital skills and literacy for life, education, work and business, extending digital infrastructure and strengthening the digital talent pipeline.

Time running out to register for Tech Barometer event

Burnham and Rugby World Cup-winning star Matt Dawson told DTX that GM’s status can only be maintained through relentless, collaborative ambition. 

“The people and the companies in this room are offering the opportunity for the next generation to come through,” he told the audience at Manchester Central, reflecting on how companies should continue to utilise smarter ways of working to maximise productivity whilst never being afraid to push the limits and try new things. 

“There is a significant shift in how we position the workforce at the moment, whether in sport or work, things are completely different when you look at the needs of staff. I find that exciting.”

He added: “The best coach I played under told me it’s okay to make a mistake – just don’t make the same mistake twice… if you don’t make mistakes, you’re not testing the boundaries.

“Day-in, day-out there is a relentless nature to elite performance – there is no cheat, no corner to be cut. Otherwise you might end up good, but will you be great?”

Dawson also explained that leadership comes in all shapes and sizes – some are vocal, some are strategic, some are young with fresh ideas.

During a fireside chat later in the show, Chris Chamberlain from Paypoint PLC expanded on the importance of creating a multifaceted workforce that embraces different ideologies. 

“What will work for one person won’t work for everybody else,” he pointed out, and invited other business owners to consider the abilities and motivations of an employee to determine which tasks they should be assigned. 

Andy Norton from Prolific said that creating ‘Communities of Practice’ can work wonders in the tech arena – a philosophy which actively encourages people of similar job roles in different teams to work/spend time together, share their experiences, learn from one another and create a knowledge web. 

He also asked companies to “go through the checkpoints” to see if they were meeting values as a team. 

Another secret recipe for building great teams is by searching in unexpected spaces. Beckie Taylor – CEO of Manchester-based Tech Returners, recently acquired by Northcoders – encouraged employers to “look into the gap” during the closing session at the event, inviting them to look at investing in people who are coming back into industry after years away.

Three successful graduates of the Tech Returners programme celebrated their achievements on stage – talking about the value of having programmes, resources and development tools that can reignite careers in technology.

Applications open for Unrest North accelerator