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How to get a job in digital: Brighton boom promises to create more jobs

By Angela Haggerty | Reporter

May 31, 2013 | 6 min read

According to the local city council, job growth in Brighton and Hove has exceeded both the regional and national average for the last 15 years, driven by the boom in digital, and continued investment into the creative hubs in the area is positive news for those looking for a digital job in Brighton.

Plans: A mock-up of the Cathedral Group's proposals

Proposals from the Cathedral Group - which heads a partnership between Brighton and Hove City Council, the University of Brighton and South East Dance - mark a regeneration plan for the derelict Circus Street municipal market to build two new public buildings and create office space for digital companies.

Projections suggest the completion of the project would be a huge boost to the creative industries and could create more than 600 jobs, as well as generating more than £208m for the economy over a 10-year period.

The city council estimates a potential for the city to create in the region of 20,000 jobs over the next two decades - a point made when expressing dismay at a recent government rejection of council pleas for areas of the city to be made exempt to new legislation which will ease the change of use from office space to residential space - and all eyes are on the digital and creative industries.

Co-founder of Brighton-based digital agency Developing Dreams, Kati Byrne, said: "Brighton has developed a reputation as a digital media hub and there are more digital agencies and freelancers in this industry here than the number of pebbles on the beach you are prepared to count.

"There are approximately 25,500 self-employed people in Brighton and Hove. This represents 13 per cent of 16-64 year olds, which is much higher than the national average of 9.6 per cent."

Latest government figures show unemployment in Brighton has fallen to 5,841, a drop of 4.5 per cent and that success is attributed to the growing digital economy. The city is home to more than 1,000 digital and technology companies and hosts Disney's European base for its kids games website and TV firm Ricochet, which makes Supernanny and Gok Wan's Style Secrets.

According to Byrne, augmented reality, gamification of businesses, 3D modelling and 3D printing are creating "a bit of buzz" around the city but businesses are finding it harder to find good 3D designers to take up jobs.

"Some people will have heard about these subject areas but won't have seen them in action as the technology is still in the geeky world of innovators and very early adopters," says Byrne.

"In the not so distant future this will change and jobs will follow in these fascinating areas of the digital world. 3D printing in particular has the potential to change the way we create, consume, manufacture and recycle every day objects. It's an industry that has seen a steep growth over the past couple of years and it's predicted to be worth $8.4bn by 2025 wordlwide."

Operations director of digital agency Bozboz, Peter Biggs, says the city needs more sector-specific specialists.

"We're seeing a rapid move into specialisms as the growth and depth of each digital arena continues to increase," explains Biggs. "For example, whereas SEOs might once have administered all aspects of their online campaigns, as the industry grows up we've seen the role of the SEO split into content marketer, onsite developer, conversion rate optimiser and social search specialists - and that's just for starters.

"So specialists are in demand. But conversely, generalists who can understand the whole landscape and generate holistic marketing strategies are also very valuable people."

Research from Brighton and Sussex Universities show Brighton's digital sector has been growing two and a half times faster than the sector nationally and the creative industries are estimated to account for a fifth of all jobs in the local economy.

The region benefits from the efforts of Wired Sussex, a Brighton-based membership organisation offering practical advice and support to the digital, media and technology sector. Along with Brighton and Hove City Council, Wired Sussex secured £6.2m in funding to help support the creative industries earlier this year and the subsequent ReCreate project saw an empty space at New England House relaunched as a creative industries innovation hub called The FuseBox, an initiative praised by Biggs.

With the excitement around Brighton's digital economy showing no signs of slow down, the only question remaining for digital jobseekers is how they can tap into that jobs market.

"Read around your subject and try to build a good picture of all the factors at play in digital projects," says Biggs. "If you're a developer, bone up on SEO, Universal Analytics and Open Graph for social integration, for example. You can bet that excellent code will get you a long way, but understanding the digital marketing context your code will be deployed in will score you bonus points at interview."

Byrne adds: "Build up your social media profiles on LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+, Facebook, Pinterest and YouTube. Connect with as many peers and potential employers as you can.

"Be sociable and helpful, engage with them online and offline at networking events. These thing don't happen overnight, but they pay off once you have established yourself as an expert in your field."

To view the latest jobs in advertising, design, digital media and marketing in your area, visit The Drum's job section

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