Louise BallIT training provider Baltic Training Services has brought the New Horizons Computer Learning Centers’ franchise to the North East and is holding a celebratory public launch – offering a platform to several of the region’s brightest technology leaders.

Scheduled for Thursday 14 July from 5pm at The Core in Newcastle are several of the region’s technology sector’s brightest and best addressing the central proposition of what is being done about a digital skills gap that is costing the UK economy an estimated £63 billion a year in lost additional GDP, highlighted in a recent House of Commons Digital Skills Crisis report from the Science and Technology Committee.

Louise Ball operations director at Baltic Training Services based in Newton Aycliffe said: “As a business we are always looking to grow and provide the IT sector with the very best training available. As part of our commitment to this we have invested in bringing New Horizons Computer Learning Centers, the world’s biggest and one of the most respected IT training brands, to the North East.”

The House of Commons report states that ‘as a result of emerging technologies, there is also a growing demand for high level digital skills in areas such as cyber security, cloud and mobile computing and data analytics. Despite the vacancies, however, some 13% of computer science students are still unemployed six months after graduating’.

Speakers will include Tyneside born David Carroll, who has a background in the defence and security sector and is chief executive officer of cyber security consultancy XQ Digital Resilience.

He said: “We live in an era of cyber insecurity. The modern economy is built upon an unassured platform. The advantage currently lies with cyber criminals who threaten jobs, prosperity and privacy. The best that organisations can hope for is resilience in the face of constant attacks. This means reacting quickly to cyber-attacks; minimising damage and limiting their impact.”

With offices in Newcastle, London and Tewkesbury, XQ plans to grow from 12 to 50 staff over the next three years.

“The North East has a great opportunity; our universities and colleges currently producing 1,000 young people every year with cyber security and related skills.

“Industry analysis suggests that by 2020 there will be around 2 million vacant cyber security jobs worldwide so there is significant demand. The North East has burgeoning gaming software industries, so the skills shortage will impact this region directly if we don’t take action.

“We need to be attracting young people from age 11 to computer science, five years ago there were 2,000 kids in the UK doing a Computer Science GCSE, now it’s 35,000; but we still need more and quickly.”

Originally from the North East Susan Bell is chief executive officer of Waterstons, an IT consultancy based in Durham; which works in partnership with businesses large and small across the North East, the UK and internationally and employees over 100 staff. She started her career as an analyst and  programmer in the Newcastle and rose to the position of executive director of a Swiss investment bank after relocating to London.

“The technology sector has often been portrayed as male dominated with barriers to women frequently quoted, my experience is different.

“I personally have never experienced my gender inhibiting my career. I believe I’ve had the success I’ve enjoyed on merit. If there is one message above all others I would want to convey to other women, or anyone in fact, who aspires to a career in technology, it would be that hard work, risk taking and endeavor will reap their own reward.

“A recent McKinsey study estimated that 1 million more technology jobs will be needed in the UK by 2020, high tech companies globally will experience a shortfall of 40 million skilled jobs by 2020 and employment in the IT industry is expected to grow nearly five times the UK average over the next decade.

“With these kinds of statistics telling us how much growth potential there is in technology I think the biggest problem facing the industry and our region is attracting talent early enough. My message therefore is a call to action to inspire younger generations about the fast paced, exciting and innovative career choices available in technology. It is a realistic and rewarding career. The future is in their hands.”

Other speakers at the event will include Professor Alastair Irons, professor of Computing Science, University of Sunderland and Nick Cook lecturer in Computing Science at Newcastle University.

People looking to come along can either sign up via eventbrite on the following link https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/new-horizons-launch-tickets-25836683215 or call or email Catherine on 0191 2696974 / catherine@beaconhouse-events.co.uk or simply come along early on the day to The Core, Newcastle Science Central – Bath Lane, Newcastle NE4 5TF.