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ScotlandIS: Digital tech boom for the Scots

By Heather McLean | 11 July 2016
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Create DateJuly 11, 2016
Last UpdatedAugust 29, 2016

By Phil Worms, computing and school project lead, ScotlandIS.

Scotland’s digital technologies industry is going through a purple patch and the career opportunities available to our young people are immense.

From software engineer to data scientist, web developer to forensic computer analyst and many more, the industry offers a huge variety of highly skilled roles, and a bright future for those who choose this path.

Demand increasing

More than 84,000 people are currently employed in jobs such as software development, data, digital agency, telecoms, cloud and ICT services roles across the country and demand is set to increase as the world becomes ever more connected. Indeed, it is estimated that the industry requires an additional 11,000 individuals each year to fill digital technologies jobs in Scotland.

While some more established industries are experiencing a decline, our sector is going from strength to strength. And yet, we are struggling to recruit at the rate required and a shortfall in new entrants threatens to slow future growth.

Industry and public sector are working together to address the skills issue before it becomes a limiting factor for Scotland’s tech potential. One of the outcomes of the Skills Investment Plan for our industry is the launch of Digital Xtra, a dedicated fund to support extracurricular computer science related activities for young people aged 16 and under. It is now accepting funding applications for projects to be running between now and March 2017.

Skills Development Scotland, ScotlandIS, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, and Education Scotland worked in partnership to develop this new funding approach. The size of the Digital Xtra fund for 2016/17 is £250,000 and will be funded in its first year by Scottish Government’s Digital Scotland Business Excellence Partnership. In future years it is anticipated that industry, employers and other funders will contribute, making this a sustainable approach.

Creating creators

Telling young people that an industry has good job prospects is not enough to change behaviour. For years, we've focused on teaching young people to be customers and consumers, rather than creators and innovators. Doing so anchors them at the wrong end of the digital technology food chain, and steadily pushes jobs and the industry overseas as we fail to grow our talent pipeline.

It's vital that we turn this around, encouraging young people to engage with digital technology, making them comfortable and confident enough to take the first steps to becoming makers as well as users of digital technology. Practical, fun and challenging extracurricular activities are an incredibly powerful means of getting young people engaged and firing up their imaginations. Outside the various pressures of the classroom, there can be more freedom to think creatively and try things they might otherwise have thought impossible.

We understand the value of these projects and believe that every single child in Scotland should have the opportunity to get involved, wherever they live.

The trade body for Scotland's ICT industry, ScotlandIS represents members from small specialist companies to global giants.


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