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Think different. Do different. Make an impact.

‘Levelling up’ seems to be the buzzword of the moment. I wanted to share why it is more than a buzzword to me and Manchester where I live. I also want to show how at Deloitte we are thinking differently about skills and doing things differently around talent recruitment to make an impact in the region.

It seems that any blog post currently starts with, or at least mentions somewhere, the pandemic. I apologise for being 100% un-original and using that as my starting point. We have all been impacted - as a new mum with twin five-month-old boys, having all my support disappear overnight was hard. I know, however, that I was in a fortunate position, and many people entered the pandemic in more difficult circumstances.

In Manchester, statistics can paint its picture. Yes, you get the standard measures; for example, nearly a quarter of Greater Manchester adults of working age (24%) are economically inactive, well above levels for England as a whole (21%)1. However, you also get statistics that make you really stop and think about the genuine disparity in our country. Firstly, Greater Manchester's COVID-19 death rate has been 25% higher than the rest of England during the pandemic2. Secondly, the child poverty rate is 26% in Greater Manchester, which is well above the national rate of 18%3. Both are underpinned by economic inequality, working, and living conditions, and the types of employment in the region.

If these statistics worry you as much as they do me read on to understand how your organisation could play an active role in helping to level up the North.

Following the statistics theme, another problem can be highlighted. Organisations are struggling to attract the digital skills which they need to grow. Open University’s research shows that half of employers struggle to attract talent with the right IT skills4. The Learning and Work Institute warn that the UK is heading towards a "catastrophic" digital skills shortage "disaster", highlighting that the number of young people taking IT subjects at GCSE has dropped 40% since 20155. Their research shows that 76% of firms think this lack of digital skills will hit their profitability6.

When you look at these two problems side by side, there is an obvious opportunity to have a positive impact in both areas simultaneously. I have a simple ask (well if I’m honest it’s probably not that simple, as we all appreciate that change is easier said than done!) If you work for an organisation, challenge yourself to think about how you can attract, source, and develop talent to make a real difference in your local area.

Here at Deloitte we have joined a collaborative national consortium of industry, educators, and outreach providers that are working together to respond to the UK’s digital skills gap through the delivery of employer-led digital skills education, on behalf of the Department for Education (DfE). These camps train individuals who are either unemployed or looking to re-skill in digital skills as well as providing skills training to improve their employability (further information can be found here - The IoC Skills Bootcamps - Institute of CodingInstitute of Coding).

In parallel, Deloitte announced last year6 our ambitious plans to expand the northern England consultancy practice, creating a further 200 jobs in the region over the next three to four years. Whilst doing this we are challenging ourselves to think differently about talent; bringing together our drive to make a social impact in the local area, and our continued support of all forms of diversity.

For example, within our award-winning consulting graduate programme we have created new roles in our Manchester team for February 2022. These roles will be recruited solely from the bootcamps rather than using the historic route of looking to university graduates and the education minimum to apply will be reduced to 5 GCSEs (including Maths and English).

The group will join our graduate programme and will be treated the same as the rest of the cohort, with one enhancement. We recognise that some of the group may have been out of work for some time or have not been able to acquire some key skills through their experience to date. We will be holding one-to-one sessions to go through a learning needs assessment and create a tailored learning plan for each person, helping to make sure that those who join us thrive.

If you feel as passionately as I do about levelling-up opportunities for people in the North, or your organisation is interested in recruiting from the phenomenal talent pool of the IoC bootcamps, then please get in touch via

  1. The Next Level: Good Lives for All in Greater Manchester (
  2. build-back-fairer-in-greater-manchester-main-report.pdf (
  3. Local-child-poverty-indicators-report-MAY-2021_FINAL-1.pdf (
  5. UK 'heading towards digital skills shortage disaster' - BBC News

Meet the author

Ali Whitefoot

Senior Manager

Ali leads organisations to get more value from finance. This can range from working with her clients to re-structure themselves to save costs all the way through to ensuring they are providing the business with insightful information to drive better decisions. She has worked for Deloitte for 10 years and is passionate about developing talent within her organisation, thereby ensuring we can provide the best experience for our clients. This is through both traditional pathways and challenging the organisation to think differently about talent in parallel with making a social impact. Outside work Ali is a relatively new mum of twin boys so is spending most of her trying to juggle family life, work and fitting in some fun for herself!

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