Warning of digital skills shortage

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A skills shortage could stop Yorkshire’s digital marketing sector from growing, a leading industry figure has warned.

Jonathan Filewood, managing director at Leeds-based digital marketing firm Enjoy Digital, told The Yorkshire Post: “Getting good people – that’s the challenge. That’s the hardest thing about business at the minute and that’s almost what’s holding us back from growing even further.

“We’re very, very precious about the service we offer our clients. We never want to be under servicing and trying to push as much work through the agency as possible, so we need more people on board to be able to grow the agency.”

Enjoy Digital, which recently saw three new hires and a promotion, said addressing the skills gap is important to the next phase of growth for the business.

Mr Filewood said: “We’re not just going to win new clients and produce work at a quicker rate to a lesser quality.

“We can’t expand fully and carry on the next phase of growth until we get some more decent people on board.”

One way in which Enjoy wants to look to address the skills gap is to work closely with universities.

Although he is open to the idea of apprenticeships, Mr Filewood doesn’t feel they would work for his business. He said: “We’ve got ourselves into a position where we don’t feel that we’ve got the time to do an apprenticeship scheme because we are an efficient business and we’ve got a lot of work on.”

Instead, Mr Filewood says that he wants to get involved with universities to get students involved in live projects so they have an understanding of a real client’s needs, the timescales involved and the quality required.

“On a project you might not have the luxury that you have at university. If you spend too long on a job you don’t make any money on it, that’s when business fails,” said Mr Filewood.

He added that a lot of students didn’t understand the commercial aspects of business.

“I think it will really do them good just to have real life briefs and real life work for them to do as projects alongside us,” he said.

Sky Betting and Gaming’s growth plans in the city have Mr Filewood worried. He said: “I think the industry is growing in general. There’s more jobs but less candidates.

“One thing that is worrying, which is great for Yorkshire but not necessarily good for us, is Sky Bet. They’ve got grand plans over the next two years creating 100 jobs and a lot of those are developers and there just aren’t the developers in Leeds for them to be able to do that.

“That’s a little bit worrying. It’s great for Leeds and the economy that Sky Bet are creating all these jobs but there just aren’t the candidates for those jobs at the minute.”

Sky Betting and Gaming said it acknowledges there is some degree of difficulty in recruiting quality talent but argued that it is the role of digital companies to ensure it is doing all it can to attract talent into the region.

Recently Enjoy completed a moved to new offices to enable them to expand.

While Enjoy have now occupied three different offices since being established seven years ago they have always been located in The Calls.

“We’ve doubled the headcount in the last two years. We moved into this building about three months ago,” said Mr Filewood.

He added that they were targeting a headcount of 50 in the next two years, up from the current 30.