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Update from the Chair

Date: 14 Dec

Once a quarter we ask our chair Caitlin Gould to give us an overview of the Digital Skills landscape in Cornwall. Here’s her update for December 2021.

Digital Jobs

The recruitment challenge is ongoing. There are currently a number of live opportunities across Cornwall within the digital space – over 50 listed on Indeed. Some jobs are going unfilled for months and roles are being re-advertised. Local companies are looking for software engineers at all levels including entry level, and across every specialism from embedded engineering to app development. There are also live vacancies in game development, digital marketing, project management, and IT support. Contractors and freelancers are also increasingly hard to find.

Across the sector, there are definitely more jobs than qualified candidates, meaning that continued support in training the local community in these skills is still highly needed.

Wage growth is also a challenge in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. Software Cornwall have heard from their members that technical staff are being headhunted and offered wages that are difficult for SMEs based in Cornwall to compete with.

Lots of digital businesses in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly are moving to a hybrid working approach with remote working and flexibility available. But culture remains important – Software Cornwall members are reporting that recruiting people that live within reach of the office is still a key factor –  even if they only come in one or two days a week. Living within reach of Cornwall is a challenge in itself. The housing crisis is limiting the ability to support potential candidates that want to relocate to Cornwall and work for a local company. There is very limited availability of affordable long-term rentals. This has had a direct impact on recruitment for businesses in the region.

Sector Health and Growth

The digital sector in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly is still going strong with continued growth of local companies and the emergence of new businesses. Supported by Cornwall Trade and Investment, a number of Cornish Start-Ups recently attended SLUSH in Helsinki, which is one of the largest digital events in the world.

There is an increase in new digital hubs in Cornwall with the Fibre Hub opening in Pool in November and new spaces available in Newquay through programs like Real Ideas Organisation. There are more planned with money allocated for new digital and creative spaces within Truro, St Ives and Penzance’s Town Deals.

Digital Inclusion

TEC Women is a new working group with members from TECgirls, the DSP, Cornwall Council, Launchpad, Software Cornwall and Ha-Lo PR, running a series of events for women in technology, engineering and creative digital. The first event ran in October at Launchpad and the second event was last week in Newquay. The goal of the events is to provide networking, training, and a chance to support women in these sectors where they are often the minority. With the success of the first two pilots more events are being planned for next year. You can sign up to hear more here.

Digital skills education and training 

TECgirls and Software Cornwall have received funding to run additional workshops within schools across Cornwall. This will be rolled out in the new year, again focusing on primary students.

We are working with a number of the funded programs such as Unlocking Potential’s Digital Transformation project and the People Hub, to continue to promote all of the funded digital skills training and support available to people in Cornwall at the moment. This includes a possible roadshow of jobs, skills, and opportunities within communities across Cornwall, as well as a targeted PR and marketing campaign.

The DSP’s plan for 2022

Our workplan, based on our strategic priorities, will be published in the new year. But here’s a taste of things to come.

Building on the success of Software Cornwall’s Mission to Mars and Screen Cornwall’s project-based work experience model, we are working closely with a number of partners on new work experience routes for students in Cornwall.

We are running a pilot Digital Futures Day at Truro Highschool for Girls on the 3rd of February, bringing together a number of employers and training providers to show year 9 & 10 students what digital job opportunities there are in Cornwall and what skills are needed to work in the digital sector. Our hope is that based on this event we are able to create a larger version of the event in June for schools across Cornwall.

We are currently exploring the idea of running a Cornwall Digital Festival. The aim is to create “A celebration and exploration of digital skills for all jobs, innovation in delivering training and education, and the future of Cornwall’s tech sector.” As a first step we are looking at how we can pilot this activity early next year, potentially as a part of Cornwall Business Week.