School Pupils To Grill Top Entrepreneur About Life In Tech


Over 350 secondary school pupils and teachers from around Scotland will gather in Edinburgh today to debate the biggest issues in technology with top entrepreneur, Sherry Coutu.

Coutu, a highly respected Angel Investor who sits on the board of the London Stock Exchange and is one of WIRED Magazine’s “25 Most Influential People in the World”, is keynote speaker at this year’s ScotSoft Schools Debate.

The event, which is part of the annual ScotSoft conference organised by digital technologies trade body ScotlandIS, brings together young people who are interested in the digital technologies and gives them a rare opportunity to quiz top industry figures about what it’s really like to set up and run a technology company.

By giving young people an insight into the industry and the many opportunities it offers, the event aims to inspire them, at a pivotal point in their education, to follow a career in the digital technologies. It also provides valuable material for teachers to use in their classes throughout the year and improves their understanding of the industry, making them better placed to advise their pupils.

In September, ScotlandIS released its annual ‘state of the industry’ survey, which found that while three quarters of its members were planning to recruit this year, there is no sign that the number of graduates is increasing. This shortage of new talent is contributing to the skills gap threatening to stop a buoyant Scottish industry reaching its full potential.

Polly Purvis, Chief Executive of ScotlandIS believes it is essential that the digital technologies industry engages early with secondary school pupils if Scotland is to reverse this skills shortage.

“It is absolutely vital that we tell young people and their teachers about the many exciting opportunities available if they choose to follow a career in the digital technologies,” she says.

“This event invites them to ask the questions that really matter and meet other young people who share their interest in IT and technology. It also gives us a chance to tap into the energy and enthusiasm of the next generation and learn more about why they are interested in our industry.”

As well as taking questions from the floor, Coutu will share her experiences of life as a successful technology entrepreneur and as co-founder of SVC2UK (Silicon Valley Comes to the UK), which aims to inspire students to consider entrepreneurship as a career, foster relationships between leading entrepreneurs, business people and investors, and helps the most promising first time CEOs to scale their companies.

Speakers joining Coutu for the event include:

• Angela Constance MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Training, Youth & Women’s Employment
• Chris Forrest, Director Microsoft Scotland
• Graeme Gordon, CEO of IFB
• Phil Worms, Director of Marketing and Communications for Iomart Group
• Robbie Graham, Product Manager at brightsolid
• Sally Kerr, Digital Services Manager for Edinburgh Apps

Angela Constance, Cabinet Secretary for Training, Youth and Women’s Employment, said:

“The ScotSoft schools debate is another reminder of the huge opportunities offered in the digital sector, which is one of the most important growth sectors in the Scottish economy. It is very encouraging to see so many young people taking part, with industry leaders taking the chance to tell them about the kinds of skills they are looking for.

“This is an exciting time for our digital sector, with many businesses based in Scotland making their mark in a very competitive worldwide marketplace. It is vital we continue to make the most of this opportunity by ensuring we do all we can to attract tomorrow’s workforce.”

Last year’s schools event saw 250 pupils come together to hear an inspirational talk from Dr Vint Cerf, ‘founding father of the internet’ and Chief Internet Evangelist at Google. This year, the event has moved to a bigger venue, giving over 350 students and 30 teachers the chance to take part.

ScotSoft is the premier event in the Scottish digital technologies industry calendar. The schools debate is followed in the afternoon by the ScotSoft global forum featuring keynote speakers: Sherry Coutu (SVC2UK), Gareth Williams (Skyscanner), David Sibbald (Aridhia), Greg Williams (WIRED), Larry Cable (Oracle), and Chris Bishop (Microsoft UK).

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