AS our lives become ever more intertwined with technology, building a regional economy that can make the most of the economic and job opportunities offered by the digital world is vital to Yorkshire’s future.
But while a huge amount of innovative and important work is being done by thousands of people in our region in this area, concerning new findings show how the county is being held back - particularly in our towns and rural areas - by poor transport links and patchy broadband connectivity.
New research shared with this newspaper by the think tank Centre for Towns shows Yorkshire is lagging behind when it comes to digital jobs. The region. Yorkshire is home to eight per cent of the UK’s population but has only 4.4 per cent of its digital jobs.
As Kevin Hollinrake, Conservative MP for the North Yorkshire constituency of Thirsk and Malton, correctly points out, vast swathes of the region are not covered by super-fast broadband.
That situation forces firms and talented employees to go elsewhere for work - but the region’s creaking transport network makes commuting a difficult proposition for many. It means that people with skills in this area frequently move away, while establishing a digital business in many parts of Yorkshire simply just isn’t under consideration for many companies.
It is little surprise that London and the South-East currently dominates the job market for this burgeoning industry but if politicians are serious about tackling the North-South divide which undoubtedly contributed to the Brexit vote, effective action must be taken to level the playing field.
Digital skills are increasingly at the heart of the UK’s economy in the 21st century and there can simply be no excuse for Yorkshire - and in particular its towns - to be left behind as the world changes.