Can Belfast’s technology companies lead an inclusive recovery?

Stuart Harvey, CEO at Datactics recently contributed to the Belfast International Homecoming, which this year was held virtually. Stuart was joined by Camilla Long, Career Encode; Seamus Cushley, Bazaarvoice; and Kevin Cunningham of MRP Prelytix. The panel itself was chaired by Jayne Brady, Digital Innovation Commissioner and aimed to discuss the question: Can Belfast’s Technology Companies Lead an Inclusive Recovery?  

Here are some of the key themes that were discussed during the panel.

23% of jobs advertised in NI last year were digital technological roles

Last week, TechNation released statistics indicating that 23% of all the jobs advertised in Northern Ireland in 2019 were digital technology roles. This is the highest in the UK alongside Cambridge. The statistics show just how foundational the role of digital technology is for Northern Ireland and the opportunity it can give for recovery.  

How exactly can Belfast Tech companies lead the inclusive recovery?   

There has been a vast change in the way organisations must work

Amid COVID-19, there has been a huge change in the way organisations have had to work with remote working becoming more and more pertinent. Stuart took the opportunity to highlight the agility that is instilled within the team at Datactics. After an extended period of working remotely during lockdown, the decision was taken to return on a 50/50 rotation with the potential for more office space to be acquired. The buy-in from staff to collaborate in the office and balance with remote working helped prompt the agile approach to navigating working in these times. “For Datactics, agility and flexibility have been the key to this growth” added Stuart. “We had work lined up from before Covid-19, so when the pandemic hit, we still had a great focus.” This focus on agility and flexibility  has enabled the growth of our team during these testing times.  

Diversity is key to the development of technology

Stuart also spoke about the diversity and inclusion strategy that Datactics has in place. There are 13 nationalities in the company with 25 different languages spoken; in terms of gender within the company, 40% of the workforce identify themselves as female; several of whom work in senior roles. In terms of age, the range is 18-65+ and there is diversity in the education background from traditional Russell Group institutions such as Oxford, Cambridge and Queen’s, through to Belfast Met and the Open University. Stuart commented, “At Datactics we have made good use of programmes such as Erasmus, where people have come over to work with us and have really enjoyed Belfast, the company, and have later stayed with us. We are lucky to have several staff in senior positions who have done this and are proud to have a variety of talent within the company from many corners of the world”.  

Stuart reiterated that hard work, flexibility, and a hunger to learn are key attributes of the team. These chime with the core values of the company, of ambition, passion, and integrity, and Datactics actively seeks to embed these values into the culture from the top down.  

Datactics has hired two female apprentices from Belfast Met

Stuart mentioned that Datactics has recently been engaging with Belfast Met. The 2nd November marked the first day for two new female apprentices who are entering the DevOps team. These apprentices will balance their work with studies at Belfast Met. Datactics have also had a long-standing engagement with the Open University, where according to Stuart, “…we have several members of the team from OU, that have potentially entered back into education slightly later”. Working with Datactics has allowed these students to earn while they learn.   

Stuart Harvey on the panel

Education is vital – but not simply the “right” education

In a sector such as software and technology that is in high demand for new recruits, there is a very interesting question surrounding pathways of education. Stuart addressed this by stating it is crucial to engage with people from all different educational backgrounds. “To focus on applicants with the highest grades or applicants that have attended no less than a Russell Group University will lead to the sharp end of a real shortage. We engage with applicants and talent from a variety of educational backgrounds and  are just out there seeking to engage with as wide a range of people as we can.” It might be a longer process to be so thorough, meet every candidate, and assess their capabilities, but it has been proven to deliver outstanding employees who have helped power Datactics’ rapid growth. 

We are just out there seeking to engage with as wide a range of people as we can”


If you missed this session, you can watch it back here.

You can also read more about Datactics and the work we have been doing to grow our team, enhance diversity strategy and continue to scale, check out our website here. You can also read our latest Datablog updates and whitepapers.

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