Scottish IT sector growth threatened by skill shortages, survey confirms

The trade body for Scotland’ IT and digital technologies industry, has warned that a shortage of skilled people is threatening the future of the country’s technology industry.

ScotlandIS published its annual members’ survey, which showed that while 84 per cent of businesses expect sales to increase in the next 12 months and 75 per cent planning to recruit in 2014, a shortage of skilled employees could stop the industry reaching its full potential.

Polly Purvis, executive director of ScotlandIS, said: “Once again our findings show that the IT and digital technologies industry is booming in Scotland. Our members are overwhelmingly positive about the coming year and they have ambitious plans for growth but, at the same time, they are struggling to fill vacancies. We cannot afford to be complacent if we are to ensure the future success of this important industry.

While Purvis welcomed initiatives such as the Skills Investment Plan for Scotland’s Digital Technologies she claimed said the the problem of skill shortages was “growing increasingly acute” with areas of shortage including software engineering, IT business support staff and project management personnel.

Gordon Brown, chief executive of 9-20 Recruitment, which sponsored the survey added: “We can definitely echo the sentiment of the soaring technology market. In the last six months we have doubled the number of both recruits and placements, which has largely been due to the new IT start-ups in Scotland,”

Brown continued: “It’s promising to see the graduate demand is still there, however this area continues to be one of contention as we have recently voiced concern over the lack of Scottish talent coming through at this level. IT education has been said to be as much as 5-10 years out of date, and is not as widely supported as it should be which is continuing to let down our students, and subsequently our companies’ bottom line performance.”

The IT and digital technologies sector, which includes software development, telecoms and IT services, employs 70,000 people in Scotland , accounts  for around 3 per cent of the Scottish economy. 

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