This is what the Cutlers’ Company can teach Sheffield’s tech sector

A digital Cutlers’ Company could help Sheffield attract and retain industry leaders, a round table heard.

Wednesday, 18th December 2019, 11:45 am
Updated Wednesday, 18th December 2019, 1:59 pm

The club for tech bosses could host dinners and social events and be based at the city’s new £3m tech hub, Kollider at Castle House.

And it would work like its near 400-year-old counterpart by creating a prestigious organisation with plenty of clout where senior leaders could socialise and swap ideas.

The Cutlers’ Company represents manufacturing bosses in Sheffield City Region and has links with historic trade organisations across the country, but especially London.

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A round table event on digital skills was held at Kollider in Castle House in Sheffield. Picture Scott Merrylees

It hosts regular ‘feasts’ at the opulent Cutlers’ Hall on Church Street and attracts top speakers including senior cabinet members. It also has an education programme which organises work experience for school pupils.

The plan was floated at a tech round table organised by Ben Atha, of the Developer Academy, to discuss the skills gap in Sheffield’s booming tech sector.

Other proposals to keep top people happy, besides pay, included flexible working, regular days working together and even month-long job swaps.

Simon Ince of Sky Bet, Jamie Hinton of Razor and Emily Dreiman - David & Jane Richards Family Foundation - Project Manager .

Ben said: “The event achieved what I wanted, which was to get stakeholders communicating. And we’ve come away with action to work on as a collective.”

The round table heard the cutting-edge David and Jane Richards Family Foundation tech syllabus was now in seven Sheffield schools, with ambitious plans to roll out across the city.

But the event heard ‘soft’ skills, including leadership, were harder to teach.

Simon Cookson, director of Northern Value Creators, said: “People skills and leadership are hard to get right. But the senior leaders make firms successful.”

Liz Wallis - Sheffield Digital Skills Action Group & Sero - Director and Nina Swanwick - Aviva - Digital Platform Manager.

Nina Swanwick, digital platform manager at Aviva, said offering flexible working was a major perk and the chance to collaborate would make a job more interesting.

“Why not send people to work one day a month in Kollider? Let them collaborate and share with their peers and see what they come up with?”

Liz Wallis, of Sheffield Digital Skills Action Group and director of Sero, said the tech giants all had schemes to boost smaller firms, but, understandably, you had to follow their requirements.

Simon Cookson - Northern Value Creators - Director Simon Cookson - Northern Value Creators - Director, Liz Wallis - Sheffield Digital Skills Action Group & Sero - Director, Nina Swanwick - Aviva - Digital Platform Manager and Mel Kanarek of Sheffield Digital. Russ Stearman - Joi Polloi - Technical Director Greg Brotherton - Servelec Technologies - Resourcing Advisor Jamie Hinton - Razor - CEO David Walsh - The Star - Business Editor Ben Atha - The Developer Academy - Founder

Those attending:

- Mel Kanarek - Sheffield Digital - Director

- Claire Fletcher - Sheffield Digital - Freelance

- Liz Wallis - Sheffield Digital Skills Action Group & Sero - Director

-Simon Ince - Sky Betting & Gaming - Director of Core Technology

- Emily Dreimann - David & Jane Richards Family Foundation - Project Manager

- Nina Swanwick - Aviva - Digital Platform Manager

- Russ Stearman - Joi Polloi - Technical Director

- Greg Brotherton - Servelec Technologies - Resourcing Advisor

- Jamie Hinton - Razor - CEO

- David Walsh - The Star - Business Editor

- Ben Atha - The Developer Academy - Founder

- Simon Cookson - Northern Value Creators - Director

- Ian Holland – Barclays Eagle Labs