Job vacancies up but skills crisis threatens growth of Scotland’s booming digital technologies

ScotlandIS, Scotland’s trade body for the IT and digital sector, published highlights of its
eighth annual members’ survey today. Against a background of strong and sustained industry
growth, the demand for jobs in digital technologies remains a critical barrier as companies
report increasingly hard to fill vacancies and specific skills shortages.
These are the latest findings from the Scottish technology industry’s annual ‘barometer’ that
shows that almost 70% of respondents are planning to take on more staff
10% on 2012 figures.(1)
Employing over 100,000 people, the IT and digital industry in Scotland is now growing faster
than any other sector, with 45,000 new professionals needed in the next five years.(2) This
view is echoed by last month’s Bank of Scotland Report on Jobs, which shows that demand
for permanent jobs in IT and computing continues to lead all other sectors in Scotland.(3)
Polly Purvis, Executive Director of ScotlandIS, says: “Today’s survey results and industry
findings reinforce the message that comes back again and again from our members. They
are going for growth and there is significant pent up demand for skilled people in the digital
technologies industry.
“There’s an increasing buzz about the industry as business and government transform their
operations through the smart application of technology. We’re seeing growing confidence
across the industry, from startups to the growing number of Scottish digital technology
businesses carving out export markets around the world.”
Software and web development skills are in the greatest demand (66%), closely followed by
commercial and business skills (53%) and project management skills (49%).
Good news also for graduates who are now one of the categories of staff most in demand at
58% – neck and neck with operatives roles at 60%. However, the lack of local talent is forcing
employers further afield when looking for staff with half (52%) of all respondents reporting
they will need to recruit people from outside Scotland.
Steven Drost, CEO of Stipso comments: “Startups like ours are having a challenging
time finding qualified software developers. Startups need to focus on a lean development
environment so we can prototype cheaply and get to market fast. The skills needed in the
lean development environment such as Ruby coding are in particularly short supply.”
As headcount is set to rise in this sector, so too are sales. The survey showed that 80%
of respondents expect their sales to increase this year.
export markets, it’s good to see that over half (53.3%) of respondents report they are selling
overseas with another 13% looking to export.
Wendy McDougall of 9-20 recruitment said: “It’s good to see continued demand for both
skilled operatives and graduates – that’s very encouraging for those students qualifying this
summer. The challenge is keeping the talent coming through the pipeline from universities
and colleges to keep up with the demand for skilled workers in the digital technology
industries”.
Alastair O’Brien, Public Sector Director of Amor Group and Deputy Chair of ScotlandIS,
added: “The ScotlandIS annual survey confirms what Amor has said in the past, namely,
the software industry in Scotland is crying out for suitably qualified graduates, growth in our
industry is being restricted, and Scotland is losing out to other countries. It is unacceptable
in the midst of a world-wide digital revolution that Scotland doesn’t have enough talented
graduates to exploit fantastic global opportunities. In order to be successful, Scotland needs
more qualified graduates, we need to encourage and provide the opportunities for the next
generation of students to be part of such a successful industry”.
The IT and Telecoms industry contributes £4 billion (5%) of Scotland’s economy annually.
The technology sector creates thousands of new jobs each year and its growth boosts the
Scottish economy by more than £30m annually. Scotland could add £12bn to its economy,
create 20,000 additional high value jobs and create 1,000 new businesses over the next five
years by enabling digital technologies.

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