Booming sectors may get more support

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THE Government is on the brink of signing a deal with local enterprise partnerships which could lead to extra support for fast growing sectors such as creative and digital, a conference was told yesterday.

Roger Marsh, the chairman of the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership, praised the region’s creative entrepreneurs at the Visual Media Conference, which attracted dozens of leading business figures. The conference, which was organised by the British Printing Industries Federation (BPIF), included a presentation from David Sanderson, the head of Sky AdSmart local. Sky Adsmart is a new approach to TV advertising, broadcasting different adverts to different households that are watching the same programme, depending on factors such as age and location. Another speaker, Henk Vermeulen, the general director of GOC, a creative “knowledge centre” based in the Netherlands, told the audience that, by 2020, companies would have to use, new, interactive marketing strategies to reach out to customers.

Mr Marsh told the conference, which was held at the Rose Bowl in Leeds: “This sector is a critical one for our future economic prosperity. It is also a sector in which the Leeds City Region has real strength and competitive

advantage on a global scale. The growth opportunities in the creative and digital industries are immense.

“These world-leading strengths are replicated in Leeds City Region - 64,000 people are employed in the sector here, across a diverse range of industries. We’ve built on our rich heritage of printing, manufacturing and creativity to become pioneers of new technologies and processes that are changing the

world. Companies such as Pace (based in Saltaire) are revolutionising the way we consume media; firms such as Radio Design, led by LEP Board member Eric Hawthorn, are transforming the mobile communications industry on a global scale; gaming companies such as Rock Star Leeds, which was behind Grand Theft Auto, are creating games played

the world over; and the Advanced Digital Institute in Shipley are developing innovative approaches to telehealth that are changing how we treat illnesses

and address the ageing population.

“We are about to agree a deal with Government that will provide the powers and funding to do even more to support businesses in our key sectors. This is likely to include targeted business support, innovation support, help with energy efficiency, more business finance schemes, and improvements to our transport and housing infrastructure that will unlock growth that is currently untapped.”

Robert McClements, the chief executive of CDi Print Yorkshire, who organised the conference, said: “There are more digital agencies in Leeds than there are in Manchester. The key findings of our sector survey is that the sector is thriving.”

Mr McClements said the study indicated that “60 odd per cent of these businesses were indicating growth” with increases in employment.

In recent years, a number of employers have raised concerns that some graduates are not ready for work when they leave university.

Mr McClements added: “There is the hoary old chestnut about the fitness of some of the courses and their appropriateness, At the same time, we are seeing initiatives with agencies like Stickyeyes, who are working with the universities, and they are thinking really quite radically about it.

“So, instead of looking at recruitment at the end of the course, they’re working with the university to try and attract students to the course, whether it’s mathematics or science, and to help prospective students realise that the industry needs science-based graduates.

“If we can encourage those people to the city region, by working with the employers who would ultimately have the jobs for them, we’ll see some really interesting developments in closing the loop, to connect the jobs with the university, and attracting the students.So hopefully that will lead to jobs being kept in the region at the end of the courses.

“The employers need to be more engaged with the educational institutions to help them understand what is fit for purpose.”