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How to get a digital job in Leeds: regeneration projects provide a bright future for Leeds digital media job market

By Angela Haggerty, Reporter

February 14, 2013 | 4 min read

Regeneration is increasing the prospects for those looking at the digital media job market in Leeds.

The Clarence Dock site is set to be transformed as a hub for the digital and creative industries and will be known by its original 1843 name, New Dock. A new café street and shopping and food facilities are planned alongside the fresh space for digital creatives.

It adds to the already established Holbeck Urban Village on the banks of the Leeds and Liverpool canal. The redevelopment of the Tower Works after over three decades of being empty has provided 24 offices aimed at creative and digital industries, with 80 per cent already taken after the first phase of regeneration was completed in July 2012. The Tower Works form part of the gateway to Holbeck Urban Village and now provide a link between Holbeck and Granary Wharf.

Group marketing director of Leeds-based digital agency Epiphany, Tom Salmon, revealed: “We're about to announce our plans to move into a new location which will allow us to create a significant number of new jobs over the next few years.

“Leeds' reputation as a hub for digital talent will get a further boost from Allied London's plans for the New Dock, which were revealed in July 2012.”

The digital and creative industries in Leeds provide jobs for an estimated 13,600 people in over 1,600 firms. Creative businesses in the city account for over half those in West Yorskshire.

“Leeds is a city with a very young feel to it,” Salmon continued. “I've lived here since 1997 and have seen how the regeneration projects of the last 10 or 20 years have transformed the city. It’s got a good cultural scene and strong local economy, although there is still much more that can be done in some areas of Leeds.

“The city's universities bring thousands of young people into the region, many of whom decide to set up home and find a career in Leeds because it’s a great place to be as a graduate. This educated and young workforce is a great asset for any digital agency to have on its doorstep.”

Holbeck Urban Village’s regeneration programme began in 1999 and is expected to take 20 years to reach completion. The Round Foundry site at the heart of the village is a £30m redevelopment project which now hosts the award-winning Round Foundry Media Centre, providing office space for creative and digital media companies.

With such a large push towards digital and creative business, Salmon had this advice for jobseekers: “Research the agency that you are applying to and check that it’s the right fit for you. Take advantage of the many networking events that take place, like the Leeds Digital Festival, and go out of your way to meet people connected with the agencies that you're interested in.

“I wouldn't say that there is a stark shortage of any particular skill, but there is plenty of competition which means that the successful agencies are those that are able to attract and retain the very best people. The cluster of great digital agencies in the city certainly helps bring people into the sector.”

A working knowledge of SEO, PPC, social media management and some technical skills are essential for those interested in the digital media and marketing environment, alongside a genuine interest in industry developments, particularly the emergence of the mobile platform and the opportunities that come with it.

There are around 130 companies in Holbeck Urban Village alone, employing an estimated 1,100 people and generating somewhere in the region of £60m in annual turnover. Enquiries for business premises in the digital hub have increased by nine per cent and the industry’s contribution to the business make up of the area sat at 41 per cent in 2008, a jump from just 10 per cent in 2003.

The digital jobs market in Leeds shows no signs of slowing down within a steadily growing industry, and its community feel may be more appealing to jobseekers who are less attracted to the hustle and bustle of a digital job in the London area.

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