THE digital economy is growing at an unprecedented level but work must continue to boost the talent pipeline so Scotland can capitalise on opportunities, according to new research commissioned by the Digital Technologies Skills Group.
Over 60,000 people are now employed in Scotland’s digital technology businesses with a further 30,000 holding digital technology roles across other sectors.
However, while around 12,800 digital technology job opportunities arise each year there is not currently a big enough pool of talent to fill them.
Loading article content
Polly Purvis, chief executive of digital technologies trade body ScotlandIS and a member of the Digital Technologies Skills Group, said that industry, education and government have come together to look at various ways of addressing the issue.
“The challenge we have in terms of the skills gap is that every industry needs these people as well as our own one and demand is only going to increase,” Ms Purvis said.
“We are doing a major piece of work across the education sector in primary and secondary schools to ensure [digital skills are] embedded in the Curriculum for Excellence.
“[Digital skills academy] CodeClan is trying to get people to change careers from one that may not have a huge future into digital technology and the Government has increased the funding for apprenticeships and also the level of apprenticeships.”
Each year 950 people enrol on digital technology modern apprenticeships and that has now been enhanced with two different graduate-level apprenticeships.
“That takes people up to a higher level and is the equivalent of doing a degree,” Ms Purvis said.
Jamie Hepburn, the minister for employability and training, said the Scottish Government “is committed to reducing the digital skills gap across all sectors in Scotland”.
“Digital skills are not only essential to our inclusive growth, they are vital to economic development, internationalisation and innovation,” he said.
“We recognise that even with over 90,000 people working in digital technology roles across Scotland, businesses are still struggling to recruit staff with the digital skills that can help them to grow.”
Despite the moves to increase the number of skilled staff in the workforce, Ms Purvis said that growth in demand for digital skills across the economy means the skills gap is continuing to widen too.
“The big challenge ahead is about how we as an economy reskill the whole workforce because everyone needs and increasing level of digital technology skills,” she said.
“The problem is that the level of skills people needs goes up year by year and it’s right across the economy.
“There are also lots of small [technology] companies with real ambition because they have seen the success of Skyscanner and FanDuel and want to grow their business too.
“That’s putting more pressure on the skills shortage.”