Keen to stay in Leeds? Have you considered the vibrant technology sector in and around the City? In this guest post, Mark Bradford, Marketing Executive at STEM graduates talks you through some of the key areas of the digital industry in Leeds. Whilst this post highlights technical roles, remember that these sectors will also recruit people across all areas of their businesses.
Sometimes it can be hard to remember that not all roads lead to the capital, especially when considering London’s prominence as a world-leading centre for the technology sector.
Leeds however, is home to an extremely diverse digital industry, with over 45,000 inhabitants employed within the sector and a further 7.28% growth being forecast between 2013 and 2020.
If you pair this with the city’s relatively low cost of living and vibrant cultural scene (which I’m sure you’re sampling), then Leeds presents an ideal platform for graduates looking to break into the technology industry.
But what career path is best for you? Fret not, we’re about to examine the areas within the technology industry in which Leeds is currently thriving and whether they’re suited to your employment preferences.
Financial Services Technology
Leeds has a well-established financial services economy, with the likes of First Direct and Yorkshire Bank calling the city home. The area is now building upon this and is making great strides in the Financial Services Technology sector.
Dotforge has launched the first FinTech start-up accelerator in the country outside of London in Leeds and subsequent growth is anticipated, with the accelerator alone expected to bring in £1.25m of investment within its first 18 months. This means that Leeds will see more new FinTech companies looking for graduates who can match their ‘start-up mentality’.
Are you able to prove that you can work autonomously? Do you have a creative approach to tasks? Are you prepared to challenge conventional ways of working? If so, then Leeds’ Financial Services sector may be the ideal place for you to launch your career in the industry.
Health Informatics & Data Science
Leeds is home to a large concentration of Data Science and Health Informatics organisations. TPP, EMIS and the NHS Data Spine are all headquartered in the city and present an alternative route for technical graduates who are good with numbers but less keen on the unconventional approach that will be on offer from the area’s burgeoning FinTech start-up scene.
For instance, within a Health Informatics job there will be strict procedures to follow relating to the safe-guarding of confidential information. So as you can guess, you can expect the specific processes of a job to be more rigid.
Working within Data Science tends to incorporate a similarly methodical style, in which you will use your technical ability to see that set operational tasks are met. There will also be more guidance on offer to graduates, with your progress being analysed in more of a conventional, hierarchical organisational structure.
Large Technology Organisations
If you’re looking to start your career at a large organisation offering a dedicated graduate training scheme, the digital sector in Leeds presents numerous options.
Major corporations such as Pace, Echostar, SkyBet and Rockstar have digital operations centres in Leeds and all of these organisations boast good reputations for bringing through graduate talent. Larger organisations also ensure that they’re visible in the first instance to students considering their graduate job prospects, whether it’s through attending careers fairs or by maintaining a strong presence on university job boards.
That’s all well and good, but how can you tell if working at a larger company is for you? Well, if you’re looking for a more structured career progression plan, closer guidance and mentoring from senior staff, opportunities to transfer between departments or even relocate, then big companies are more often better placed to offer these options to graduates.
We’ve already looked at the emerging FinTech start-up sector in Leeds, though in more general terms the city has become home to a tech start-up community that will be in a position to compete well with its big city rivals.
The West Yorkshire area is home to impressive new spaces such as the RoundFoundry and Duke Studios, which are helping to attract more new technology and digital companies to an already bustling tech cluster.
As mentioned, the working environment within tech start-ups are noticeably more flexible than what’s on offer at larger organisations. Graduates will be quickly thrust out of their comfort zone and expected to hit the ground running, as companies will not have the personnel or resources to closely nurture their intake’s initial progress.
As such, the learning curve can be steep and the level of autonomy afforded to graduates can be daunting. This environment of course won’t be suited to everyone, but if you’re looking to prove yourself quickly, have a creative spark and you’re unfazed by taking on large amounts of responsibility, then the experience of working at a start-up presents the chance to thrive early on in your career and can put you ahead of the game when it comes to looking for your second job after graduating.
Do you have any more questions relating to breaking into the technology industry in Leeds? Feel free to fire away any questions in the response section of this article.