A new report has highlighted a worrying shortfall in the right types of digital skills in Scotland. According to Digital Technologies Skills Group, around 60,000 people are currently employed in Scotland’s digital technology businesses with a further 30,000 holding digital technology roles across other sectors.
But the growth of the sector has not been matched by a similar uptick in the flow of adequately skilled people ready to take up roles. The DTSG report claims that while around 12,800 digital technology job opportunities arise each year there is not currently a big enough pool of talent to fill them.
“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,” Polly Purvis, chief executive of digital technologies trade body ScotlandIS and a member of the Digital Technologies Skills Group, said on the day the report was published.
“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.”
Those apprenticeships are increasingly seen as critical to filling the skills gaps that is beginning to open up in the industry. According to DTSG, 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,” Purvis points out.
However, there is clearly still work to be done.
“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,” Purvis said, explaining that, “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.”