Inspiring Young People

Bradford’s first Tech Week launches in bid to inspire young people’s careers

Bradford Tech Week

By Jo Winrow

THE very first Bradford Tech Week is taking place next month, hoping to inspire the district’s young people into careers in the tech industry locally.

LOCALiQ – the digital arm of the Telegraph & Argus – is behind the new initiative and the event will take place in the third week of October straight after Bradford Manufacturing Weeks.

Together the two events are a growing part of what is becoming Skills Month across Bradford.

Tim Rogers, who is responsible for partnerships at LOCALiQ, said he first started talking about Bradford Tech Week over a year ago, but that since the Covid-19 pandemic, they have moved to using technology to deliver Tech Week.

“The aim is to provide young people with awareness about the opportunities that exist within tech in Bradford.”

“After a first roundtable we agreed we would launch Bradford Tech Week in October straight after Bradford Manufacturing Weeks to create October as Bradford Skills Month. It aims to provide young people with work experience, mentoring, office tours, case studies of different tech roles, programs and workshops.”

A number of businesses are involved in Bradford Tech Week, including national companies Morrisons, Emerald, IBM, Openreach, CityFibre and PwC, as well as SMEs including Exa Networks, BTL, Virtual College, Yeme Architects and Gordons.

In addition Bradford Council and the University of Bradford are partners in the initiative.

Mr Rogers said that all the content will be hosted on the Virtual Colleges platform and launched in the third week of October. It will be kept live until the end of the calendar year.

“There is a great wealth of experience involved in Tech Week with leaders particularly keen to provide aspirational work and mentoring helping young people think more creatively and with more strategy in order to close the productivity gap, the skills gap and the inequality gap,” added Mr Rogers.

As part of Tech Week, the team have already collected 25 computers from local businesses which are being distributed to the 30 per cent of students locally who do not have access to a computer at home.

Mark Cowgill, director of Exa Networks, has been involved in Tech Week since it’s inception.

“Digital skills are at the top of the governments and local government agendas and that is why Tech Week is vital to the city.

Mark Gowgill

“We have a chance with our young people in the city, to get them ahead of the rest of the country, and therefore better prepared for a career in either tech or using technology in an ever-increasingly digital world.

“From a personal point of view, Exa Networks, which is an internet service provider and software development house, need that talent now, and in the future, and as a Bradford-based business, we would much prefer to take local talent.

“Over 75 per cent of our team comes from Bradford.

“If schools take advantage of Tech Week, and the on-going events throughout the year, as well as free events from The Exa Foundation, then they are giving themselves the best possible chance for their students to see exactly what is going on in the city, tech-wise, and the hundreds of different roles in the technology and digital industries there are.”