One year on from the launch of Sky’s world-class technology hub at the regenerated Leeds Dock, Sky said it has surpassed its initial targets by hiring over 650 highly-skilled employees, beating the initial goal of creating 400 jobs at the site.
Sky said its investment in Leeds Dock shows it is committed to working together with the Government to help bridge the digital skills gap, particularly in the North of England.
Sky has announced plans to maintain its position as one of the biggest employers of coders in Leeds by offering a further 30 technology opportunities for young people every year.
Sky said these will span across graduate programmes, apprenticeships and work experience, welcoming many students from local universities. New workers will join Sky’s Software Engineering Academy graduate scheme, which has a track record of training the coders of the future.
Sky said it recognises the need to promote gender diversity in the technology industry, and has launched a free “Get into Tech” programme aimed at encouraging women, with little or no previous technology experience, to move into a developer career.
Since May 2016, over 80 women have enrolled in the course, which teaches the basics of software development and other skills required to embark on a technology-based career. More than 50 per cent of the women who have joined the “Get into Tech” programme have done so in Leeds.
Sky said its technology hub in Leeds has proven integral to delivering innovation for Sky customers. Over the last year, the Leeds team has been involved in the development of Sky’s state-of-the-art Sky Q platform and the company’s new Sky Mobile offering.
It said the Leeds team continues to lead on significant work ranging from app development to digital customer service and also e-commerce trading.
Natasha Sayce-Zelem, head of technology at Sky said: “In just one year we’ve recruited 650 exceptionally talented people into the business, moved into our brand new, cutting edge offices at Leeds Dock and successfully delivered digital innovations right across the Sky group.
“Separately I’m really proud to be a part of launching ‘Get into Tech‘ in Leeds, a free training course for women which is helping to develop digital skills in the region and promote gender balance in the sector.”
Rt Hon Hilary Benn, MP for Leeds Central, added: “This is great news for the city and for those who have been able to take up these opportunities, and especially the apprenticeships.
“This development is contributing to Britain’s economic future.”
Leeds Dock and the surrounding area has quickly grown into an important centre for British technology, with a number of large UK multinationals following in Sky’s footsteps by opening new offices to house digital and entrepreneurial hubs.
Leeds Dock now employs over 1,500 people. Firms including iseePR, Ilk and First 10 Digital are also based at the South Bank development.
Just three years ago the area, formerly known as Clarence Dock, was seen as a run-down part of Leeds.
Clarence Dock was originally used by barges to unload goods, mainly coal, from the Leeds and Liverpool Canal and Aire and Calder Navigation.
Like many waterside areas, when the industry it had been set up to serve decline, it became something of a ghost town.
However, in 2001 salvation came in the form of a £250m regeneration project. It included the arrival of the prestigious Royal Armouries, but the wider development suffered for years from a lack of interest and low footfall.
Sky’s presence has provided a high profile anchor tenant to bring other firms to the area.
Six years ago the site was acquired by Allied London, which unveiled a masterplan for the troubled district, with ambitions to create a water village, landmark buildings, a green space and a workspace hub.