Channel 4 boss wants to see more young people from disadvantaged backgrounds secure jobs in creative sector

A senior figure at Channel 4 said he wants to see more young people from disadvantaged backgrounds secure long term careers in the creative sector.

Channel 4's arrival is expected to attract a large number of creative firms to Leeds

Kevin Blacoe, the Head Of Partnerships at Channel 4 made the comments during a roundtable sponsored by Grant Thornton to celebrate The Yorkshire Post’s Excellence in Business Awards.

Mr Blacoe told the online event, which featured speakers from a wide range of business sectors: “At Channel 4, we champion the digital and creative sectors.

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"The strength of these sectors was one of the main reasons we came to Leeds after an incredibly competitive bid process. The sheer amount of raw talent in Leeds was why we believed the city would be such a great fit for us.

Mr Blacoe added: “We are really building up our presence in the region.

“We hope this will help the companies we work with by attracting new talent into the region. We can really help others to access opportunities.”

He welcomed the announcement that the BBC is moving more staff into places like Leeds, adding; “The impact of the BBC’s earlier decision to relocate staff to Salford was really impressive. We want people to be able to have a career without having to go to London.

"The more of that talent that moves to places like Leeds the better. In five years’ time I would like to see more young people, particularly from diverse and socially disadvantaged backgrounds securing jobs in the creative sector, whether that’s through our apprenticeship programmes or through training programmes run by people we work with.

“I want to see them embark on a long and productive career in the creative sector.”

Last year, building work was completed on The Majestic, Channel 4’s new home in Leeds.

Other participants included James Mason, the CEO of Welcome to Yorkshire, who stressed that the tourism body wanted to focus on growing the numbers of people, who visit, live, work and study in Yorkshire, because all of these groups contribute to the visitor economy, especially over the next year when international travel restrictions will be in place.

"A new cohort of people, including people from the BBC will be coming to Yorkshire for the first time ever,'' he said. "Yorkshire is the very best of Britain which is why the BBC and Channel 4 have chosen Leeds as their centre.. the whole county can benefit from this and our job will be to encourage them to get out and about to visit all four corners of the county, to enjoy short trips and spend more money, more often. That is our role.

Mr Mason added: "But we need to change the perception of what a visitor is. We have got to amplify the great stories that already exist within our county to encourage a massive influx of visitors from all across the UK.

"There are still some real misconceptions about the county."

For example, Welcome to Yorkshire still has people visiting its website, and asking if Yorkshire has any beaches.

Mr Mason said he would welcome decisions to unlock funding that would support nimble projects alongside the bigger strategic objectives.

"Tub-thumping is really important alongside joined up thinking such as a robust, modern transport infrastructure, (which) is something we need to get right and quickly."

He said it was important to focus on personalities who stressed the very best of Yorkshire, highlighting the fact that Hannah Cockroft MBE and Dr Amir Khan would be taking part on Welcome to Yorkshire's upcoming annual conference on 30th and 31st March.

He added: "These people are standard bearers of all that is brilliant about our county."

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