Sunderland has a proud history in shipbuilding and coalmining, however the city is now looking forward to a digital future. Tech City recently visited the North East on its tour around the UK promoting the Tech Nation 2017 results.
There was some positive news for the area, with Sunderland recording the highest growth in the North East and fourth highest nationwide. As a city we also achieved a 101% growth in digital business turnover.
The report named Wearside as the fourth highest in digital technology job growth. According to a study carried out by Tech Nation, the city’s growth from 2011 to 2015 was 49%, ahead of cities such as Edinburgh, Southampton and Liverpool. Digital technology jobs in Sunderland currently stands at 5,742 with the average advertised digital salary being £38,895. Sunderland also saw a 101% rise in digital business turnover between 2011 to 2015 and an 18% increase in the number of digital technology businesses in the city, with 46 new startup births each year. The digital growth optimism for Sunderland hit 81%, ahead of London and was only beaten by Edinburgh, Leeds and Manchester.
So, why has Sunderland become a hotbed for digital technology growth? We spoke to Chris Lee, director at CCS – Talking Business. CCS hold national clients such as Nike, Puma, Iceland and Hays Travel from their offices at Comms House, Hylton Road. Chris said, “To be placed ahead of key cities such as Edinburgh and Liverpool for digital growth is fantastic and it is great to see Sunderland gaining the recognition it deserves when it comes to our success in the sector.
“As a city, we have countless success stories and with optimism high amongst the digital business community, the industry in Wearside is going from strength-to-strength.”
However, there were a few concerns in the report that could hinder Sunderland’s growth in the digital technology field. 49% of digital businesses in Sunderland said the biggest growth challenge was finding highly skilled workers – according to the report when asked to rate the talent supply as good – Sunderland only achieved 22%, Newcastle achieved the same score whilst Middlesbrough topped the North East table with 38%. Cambridge and Oxford unsurprisingly led the way with 72% and 54%, respectively. It was discussed at the conference that this lower score could be down to a lack of interaction between North East universities and the local business community.
It was also suggested that educational institutes need to truly understand what a business really needs from graduates and vice versa. Other growth challenges for Sunderland tech businesses were low levels of awareness of the local digital industries, with 29% rating the poor transport infrastructure as a problem and finally 26% of digital tech businesses believe limited investment opportunities are a growth challenge.
In the main it was a largely positive report for Wearside and if the current trends continue we should see a further rise in the number of digital technology businesses making Sunderland their home – an exciting prospect for our city.
We have a huge wealth of digital technology knowledge and experience in Sunderland and it is time that we claim its rightful position a true leader in the digital sector.