ONE of the main companies involved in Bradford Tech Week has spoken of why digital skills are so vital to the city.

Mark Cowgill, the co-director and founder of Exa Networks, has been involved with the idea of setting up a week to promote a career in the tech and digital industries since the very beginning.

The Bradford company is an internet service provider delivering bespoke internet services, sat down with Bradford Means Business and LOCALiQ, the digital arm of the Telegraph & Argus, to discuss an idea, which has now become the city's first Tech Week.

Mr Cowgill said: "It is something the city has needed for a long time. Tech and digital skills are not only the future of the wider tech industry but in fact, are needed in every industry now.

Very simply every industry uses digital and tech. From hospitality and takeaways (tills and Just Eat type service) to taxi drivers (Uber) through to emergency services and solicitors, every type of company uses technology.

"No matter what job you go into, tech is going to be part of it. Yet it is one of the least taught subjects at school, and due to how technology advances most parents are behind on the understanding of technology than the children so it is not like they can get help at home.

"Digital skills are at the top of the government and local government agendas and that is why Tech Week is vital to the city.

"We have a chance with our young people in the city, to get them ahead of the rest of the country, and therefore better prepared for a career in either tech or using technology in an ever-increasingly digital world."

He added that from a personal point of view, his firm needs that talent now and in the future, and would much prefer to take on local talent.

"If schools take advantage of Tech Week, and the on-going events throughout the year up to the following Tech Week in 2021, as well as free events from The Exa Foundation, then they are giving themselves the best possible chance for their students to see exactly what is going on in the city, tech-wise, and the hundreds of different roles in the technology and digital industries there are."

Tech Week has been launched by Bradford Means Business, The Telegraph & Argus, LOCALiQ and tech experts Exa Networks.

Beginning on Monday, October 19, the initiative aims to help young people into careers in digital industries.

As a result of the pandemic the programme will all be online this year, with three workshops taking place throughout the week as well as content hosted on the Virtual Colleges platform. Exa is hosting two of the workshops, a Hack Jam and a Virtual Video Games Tour.

Tech Week aims to firmly place the idea of tech as a career into the minds of school and college students across the district and challenge them to think about how tech impacts on almost every type of business.

The team behind the initiative have been working closely with the University of Bradford, Bradford College, City Fibre, Exa Networks, Cloud2, Teledyne, BTL, Virtual College, and Emerald, to develop an interactive programme for students and give them a taste of life in the tech sector.

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