Changing work places: One in 25 Scots is now in tech job

Left to right,  Stephen Coleman of Code Base, Gareth Williams of Skyscanner, Lesley Eccles of FanDuel and Jamie Coleman of Code Base. Picture: Jane Barlow
Left to right, Stephen Coleman of Code Base, Gareth Williams of Skyscanner, Lesley Eccles of FanDuel and Jamie Coleman of Code Base. Picture: Jane Barlow
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ONE in 25 Scots is now employed by the country’s booming technology sector.

There are more than 1,000 workplaces in the IT and telecoms sectors, worth an estimated £4 billion annually.

The figures are revealed in the annual Scottish Technology Industry Survey, which examines the health of digital services.

“Scotland’s IT and telecoms industry provides a vast range of products and services to many sectors, including health and social work, education, financial services and construction,” said Polly Purvis of trade body Scotland IS.

“The report shows high level of confidence among businesses, with 87 per cent reporting themselves as being optimistic or very optimistic about the year ahead.

“Sales growth was reported by 70 per cent of businesses, half of these reporting turnover of over 20 per cent.”

Two Scottish tech firms were last week ranked among the top ten firms in the UK for the value of their intellectual property, according to the UK’s first-ever IP league table.

Edinburgh-based LUX Assure, which develops chemical monitoring technologies for the oil and gas sector, was placed 
second.

Also placed was capital-based business Speech Graphics, which creates facial animation technology for the entertainment industry.

The rest of the UK and Europe remain the biggest markets for tech services, followed by the US and Canada. Scotland accounts for 25 per cent of sales.

The technology industry is spread throughout the country, with particular clusters in the main cities. A total of 37 per cent of firms surveyed had a head office in Edinburgh, an increase of eight per cent.

Financial services and public sector contracts remain the biggest sources of work for firms, followed by energy and utilities and telecommunications.

The majority of Scottish firms expected to recruit more staff this year, with 59 per cent saying they would find new talent in the country.

The figures were revealed in the annual Scottish Technology Industry Survey, which examines the health of digital services, and has been compiled by Scotland IS on an annual basis since 2008.

Purvis, who has led Scotland IS for more than five years, believes there are more opportunities for tech firms to secure funding than ever before.

“Match funding is something that Scotland does very well,” she said. “There are many entrepreneurs who would have really struggled without that extra support. We have an active community of business angels; more venture capital firms getting involved in the market would be great. The Scottish Co-Investment Fund adds the extra firepower to give investees the boost they need.”

Meanwhile, Jamie Coleman, managing director of tech incubator CodeBase, is networking internationally in a bid to bring major international tech players to Scotland to mentor the 60-plus companies he nurtures, ranging from gaming firms to medical companies.

“If oil is running out, we need something else in Scotland, and what we have is brain power,” he said.

“We have got talent and I want to vacuum all that talent. I want to bring in investors and also talent from all around the world to help people make the most of what we have got.”

He said Scotland was a “great place” to launch a start-up.

“With this nation’s history of innovation and invention that shouldn’t be a great surprise, but precisely because we’re Scottish it often is,” he said.

“Until quite recently, we saw ourselves – and indeed were seen by those from the outside looking in – as quite a fledgling tech hub. With the billion dollar valuations of our greatest tech success stories to date – FanDuel and Skyscanner – we have this strong indicator that we are fledgling no more. The confidence levels are skyrocketing and this has not gone unnoticed by tech and investor communities across the globe.

“The days where a career in law or medicine were safe are over. Across every sector of life, digital technology is taking over. From healthcare, finance, education and energy to transport, tourism and construction, software is king. Uber is the world’s largest taxi company that owns no taxis; Airbnb is the largest hotel company and it owns no hotels. We are living at the beginning of a golden age of invention and Scots firms are well placed to help build this future.”