Sheffield tech jobs boom: ‘we can’t keep up’

Nancy Fielder, Andy Baker CEO of Plusnet, Oliver Bryssau, Andy Goldby, Tejay White, Alexa Greaves, Mel Kanarek, Andy Burton, Adrian Hackett, Stuart Green and David Walsh
Nancy Fielder, Andy Baker CEO of Plusnet, Oliver Bryssau, Andy Goldby, Tejay White, Alexa Greaves, Mel Kanarek, Andy Burton, Adrian Hackett, Stuart Green and David Walsh
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Sheffield’s tech sector is growing at a phenomenal rate - and companies can’t keep up.

Successful firms are piling on jobs but struggling to fill vacancies, especially middle-ranked positions that require experience.

Andy Baker, CEO of Plusnet and Mel Kannarek of Sheffield Digital

Andy Baker, CEO of Plusnet and Mel Kannarek of Sheffield Digital

The result is a handful of firms with more than 100 jobs on offer. The figure was revealed at a Star round table sponsored by Plusnet and attended by leaders from Zoo Digital, Sky Bet, The Floow, Tribal Group, Origin Broadband, AAG Systems and Kollider Projects.

The city’s biggest tech firm, Plusnet, employs 1,200 and is advertising 28 jobs. It has moved into mobile and that arm of the business has grown 50 per cent in the first three months of this year.

Chief executive Andy Baker said the lack of recruits was holding them back.

He added: “All of us are at the heart of successful digital companies. We should be proud - but there is so much more potential to grow into.”

The Floow, a driver tracking company, needs 60 tech staff in the next six months after attracting £13m investment.

Andy Burton of Sky Bet said they opened an office in Sheffield to combat a shortage in Leeds and had hired 120 “very good” people in two years - but it had taken longer than he wanted.

The firm has been forced to open an academy to train people without the necessary skills.

Subtitling firm Zoo Digital is recruiting after moving to bigger premises in the city centre earlier this year.

Chief executive Stuart Green said they found it difficult to hire people with software engineering experience.

Mel Kanarek, co-founder of industry body Sheffield Digital, said there were dozens of vacancies from small businesses advertised on their site.

She added: “Every single one of the 20 digital business I have spoken to in the last month is recruiting.”

In Doncaster, Origin Broadband needs 140 staff by the end of the year.

Boss Oliver Bryssau said they were opening a third site nearer Sheffield - and increasing perks and bonuses - in a bid to attract people.

The Tech Nation report states Sheffield has 18,961 digital jobs and pumps £339m into the economy every year.

Some 51 per cent of start-ups are concerned about a lack of highly-skilled workers and 35 per cent say there is low awareness of the industry.

Mel Kanarek, co-founder of Sheffield Digital, said: “What is striking is the combination of significant growth and a lack of talent.

“This is echoed in regular discussions.

“We know businesses are finding it extremely difficult to skilled vacancies.”