The end of the year is always a good opportunity to pause and reflect on what’s happened over the past twelve months. It’s been a busy year for Sheffield Digital – we’ve got a lot done and we couldn’t have done it without the support of our members, Partners and Associate Sponsors. We hope that we say ‘thank you’ regularly, but we know that we don’t tell you enough about what your membership fees and your general support and enthusiasm have collectively achieved. So, it’s one of our new year’s resolutions to tell you more often, and we’re starting early in this ‘end of year’ reflection. Enjoy!
Our campaign to help to tackle the digital skills and talent gap in our region kicked off in March 2023. We had a number of ambitions for this campaign and we’re really pleased to report that we’ve achieved many of them (and we’re not done yet!).
One of the things we wanted to do through this campaign was to encourage local tech firms to reach deeper into the talent pipeline and think differently about recruitment practices. We shared some brilliant stories that showcased partnerships between businesses and different education / training organisations in the city. Take a look:
Recruiting from Developer Bootcamps – Hive IT has recruited two members of its team from developer bootcamps, so they shared some useful insight and advice about the process. Plus, we heard from Ben Atha, founder of The Developer Academy who explained how this type of training works.
Helping T-Level students kick start their careers – The Sheffield College and Verticode told us why industry placements are helping to keep talented young people in the city’s tech ecosystem.
Opening doors for refugees – BJSS shared their experience of supporting Voluntary Action Sheffield’s New Beginnings Project, helping refugees to develop their digital skills and prepare to apply for jobs in our tech sector.
Connecting employers to the future workforce – See it Be it (SIBI) in Sheffield demystifies the tech sector by facilitating meaningful employer engagement in schools. The Curve told us about the work they are doing with local schools through SIBI.
We promised a Digital Skills Audit and we delivered just that. Some of the early results can be found in our AGM presentation, which we link to further on in this post. The full report will be published in January 2024.
‘How did you get here?’ is the question we asked six people who volunteered to share their journeys into tech careers, including four software apprentices at Tes. Take a listen over on our podcast.
We recently shared an update on the Sheffield Digital Mentoring Scheme, in which we told you about the difference the scheme is making to people’s lives and careers. In 2023, your support has enabled us to make 30 matches on the scheme and we’ve seen mentees take the plunge into new careers, develop ideas into successful startups, and develop skills, confidence and clarity around the direction they’re heading in. And of course, none of this could happen without the generosity of our volunteer mentors; a big thank you from us for making this scheme so successful.
Sheffield Digital events
Last year we hosted our first Senior Leaders Dinner and following its success, we have hosted a further three dinners throughout 2023. These events create an opportunity to meet other leaders within the region, form friendships, partnerships and collaborations, and ultimately to strengthen the tech ecosystem. We’re looking forward to welcoming you to more Senior Leaders Dinners in 2024.
We ran a number of meetups for individual members and a dedicated mentor meetup, not to mention continuing to coordinate the weekly GeekBrekky meetup.
This year’s AGM was a busy, vibrant and lively event, as more than 60 members of the community came along to find out what we’ve been up to, to hear the early results of the Digital Skills Audit, to meet Kirin Harrington – who shared his ambitions for a young person’s tech network in Sheffield – and to hear from Dash Tabor and Nick Stewart, two tech founders with very different stories to tell, in our keynote interview. The AGM gave us a perfect platform to share some of the great news stories from the community over the past year, including awards won, deals made, offices moved into and new products launched.
We were delighted to raise £315 from tickets sales for the Good Things Foundation and we’ll be bringing you an update in the new year about the type of projects that money will help to support.
Missed the AGM? No worries, you can view the full presentation here.
There’s no escaping the fact that the UK’s economy has affected the local jobs market and we know that many Sheffield tech firms have had to make cut backs this year. However, we still want to celebrate the 280 jobs that have been advertised on our Jobs Board, marking lots of new opportunities created in our sector.
Community events and meetups
Throughout 2023, many events were added to the Sheffield Digital Events Calendar and regularly shared through our social media channels and newsletter. It’s really felt like face to face events have made a comeback this year and we’ve enjoyed seeing the return of popular meetups like ProductTank and AWS SheffieldMeetup, as well as the return of Startup Meetups in all four of South Yorkshire’s towns and cities.
We’re so happy to provide a platform to promote these events and help the organisers reach larger audiences. Your support enables us to do this!
Connect, represent, promote
These are the three streams of activity that our work falls under, and whilst we’ve tried to detail as much of the tangible stuff as possible in this post, a large part of our remit is to bring people together and to signpost towards resources, organisations and people.
We can’t pinpoint every example (some of them happen formally, many happen over coffee at Geek Brekky!) but it’s things like introducing new micro-company members to Sheffield Technology Park’s startup incubator, the Cooper Project; helping a company negotiate the government’s R&D tax scheme by pointing them to Shorts Accountant’s dedicated Radius service; and making recommendations for speakers and panel members to ensure our tech sector is represented at events at a local, regional and national level.
How does your membership make this all happen?
The above activity, in addition to our regular social media output, fortnightly newsletter, podcast, membership management, admin and everything else that goes on behind the scenes is facilitated by a small team of freelancers and unpaid directors (meet us here). The money we receive in membership fees pays for the work our freelancers do, website hosting and other online tools, and it contributes to the events we host.
So, when we say we couldn’t do it without you, we mean it. Your support is helping us to develop the best possible environment for setting up, working in and growing digital businesses in Sheffield and the surrounding region. So from us to you, a big thank you – have a wonderful Christmas and we look forward to a successful New Year for us all.