This month's Digital Leaders Salon was held in partnership with the North and West Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce. Partnerships are important, and the well-established network of the chamber brought a variety of skills and experience from almost every sector digital technology could transform.
The salon was held at aql’s historic Salem Chapel HQ, with a notable comment from the Regional Chair of Digital Leaders and aql CEO Adam Beaumont:
This, we hope, will be the last of the Leeds-centric salons - we’re keen to work with other stakeholders in other cities - Yorkshire and Humber is a large footprint and we need to ensure we’re working across that region.
The topic this time was skills - always a complicated challenge. Our first speaker was Emma Greenwood from Lloyds Bank, announcing the launch of their third Digital Business Index report, with some remarkable findings and statistics in terms of the lack of digital skills in small to medium sized businesses. For example, 48% of small businesses in Yorkshire and Humberside do not have a website, despite the fact that 70% of them make payments online to suppliers. It's not surprising though, considering that 53% don't invest anything at all in digital skills, though this was hearteningly less than the 66% seen nationwide.
Our second speaker was Mark Goldstone, Head of Policy at West & North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce. His holistic view on skills across the region highlighted the need for engagement with education across the board, from colleges, UTCs, universities and effective careers services, highlighting the digital divide between education and business. The work that Leeds City College and the universities were doing in the cyber capability space was highlighted as an exemplar of how business is driving skills-creation in education.
The discussion which ensued included lively debate, highlighting the need for more private sector mentors and interaction with education to drive course content to ensure the digital skills taught are relevant for the modern business. There was a discussion around how platforms such Uber, whilst creating a marketplace, could be viewed as accelerating the commodification of services.
We expect to be hosting the next Digital Leaders event in early 2017. For information and updates, and to be added to the invite list, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. All events take place under Chatham House rules and are completely free to attend.