Channel 4’s Retune to put Leeds on the Map

Channel 4’s regional move has eyes looking at the North again amid new growth.

CHannel 4’s headquarters move to Leeds hasn’t been short of excessive media attention, not only is Channel 4 a huge coop for the city of Leeds but the potential domino effect the move could have on the city seemingly knows no bounds.

A city constantly growing and developing it seems a big broadcaster like Channel 4 deciding to head north is proving the development of the city.

The lead executive for Channel 4’s national headquarters in Leeds, Sinead Rocks believes the broadcasters have “well and truly landed in Leeds,” continuing with, “this is a really big deal for us, our entire future depends on making this work.”

“We hope Channel 4 will act as a catalyst for further growth in the region.”

The media and technology scene in Leeds is perhaps the sector seeing the most progress in recent years. Traditionally, London, as the capital is considered the main city for all things media and technology, naturally Manchester has taken some of that burden from London with their media city. But now perhaps Leeds is becoming a northern media hub.

Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership is one example of how Leeds is focussing heavily on growing the cities economic strength by tapping into local businesses their aims are simple “We work with partners across the public and private sectors with the goal of stimulating growth to unlock the Leeds City Region’s vast economic potential.”

Lindsey Johnson, project manager for Careers West Yorkshire Combined Authority says: “Digital skills and technology are a priority for the Leeds City Region.”

The focus on technology is very much city wide. Leeds University has joined in with extra developments in robotics to further increase the technological advancements.

Johnson continues: “It was a real coop to attract Channel 4 to Leeds. Although they won’t be offering many direct jobs in the spin-off and associated jobs around production will be of great benefit.”

Despite Channel 4 not necessarily offering direct jobs with their broadcasting company, it seems for the city their move will act as a catalyst for media and technology firms to gain a boost be it financially or in terms of greater job interest and increased workforce.

“Channel 4 is also committed to increasing diversity in the creative sector and we are working closely with them and Burberry on this agenda”, Johnson says.

This close relationship is something which can become a major factor for future developments in the sector and could potentially help Leeds to continue to attract some of the biggest players in the media and technology sector.

However, with developments and increased demand comes pitfalls and issues, Leeds is no different, currently 40,000 people are employed in specialist digital roles in the City Region and there continues to be a strong need for specialist digital workers in the current recruitment market.

Alongside this, a lack of key stage 4 children opting to take computer science at GCSE’s is helping to enforce this deficit. Just under 12% of children in the Leeds City Region took GCSE Computer Science in 2019, Leeds as a whole saw only a slightly higher figure of 13%.

Perhaps in terms of the education system work could be done in getting more children involved in this sector, as this sector grows and demand increases there could come a push.

Despite this, apprenticeships have seen a steady rise, particularly in the over 19s in recent years, with more people opting to take part in apprenticeship starts both advanced and higher apprenticeships have seen considerable rises since 2015.

Leeds Beckett University leads the way in the county for providing computer science at degree level, with the highest number of students taking the course. While York University leads the way on postgraduate opportunities.

The government has put forward commitments to focus on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) to develop a skilled workforce with computer science courses. Courses like the ones at Leeds Beckett are planned to meet this commitment.

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