Scotland’s digital tech sector could generate 70,000 additional jobs over the coming five years if the next Scottish Government helps it fulfil its potential, according to the chief executive of trade body ScotlandIS.
Commenting as the organisation launched its pre-election manifesto, outlining the need to foster growth in the “invisible industry that is changing the world”, Polly Purvis said Scotland must harness the potential of the burgeoning “information revolution”.
About 84,000 people are currently employed in the sector north of the Border, and Purvis told The Scotsman that the additional jobs would come directly from industry itself, as well as from the transformation of other industries as they harness the benefits of digital.
ScotlandIS highlighted exports, data science and cybersecurity as three key opportunities for growth, and it has called for the likes of greater internet connectivity across Scotland and improved digital inclusion, with a Scotland-wide public education programme.
It also highlighted the need for a focus on fostering tech cluster growth, “with new clusters encouraged in Aberdeen and Inverness, and growth targets for Edinburgh and Glasgow to outperform successful cities such as Stockholm and Berlin”, as well as helping create the “workforce of the future” to combat the digital skills gap, and improving access to growth capital.
Purvis said that if the recommendations are not all implemented, this would stifle the sector’s growth and result in “unfulfilled” ambition and potential to grow the sector faster than at present.
“I think there is a great opportunity, and I think in a Scottish economy where we need to rebalance the distribution of our industries, the digital technologies industry has a major part to play.”
She said there is the opportunity north of the Border, “to convert our undeniable potential into a reality by creating an effective digital economy”.
Purvis added: “Scotland is on the road to becoming a world-class digital nation by 2020. In doing so we have the opportunity … to reshape our society, to deliver highly skilled and fulfilling jobs and to drive efficiencies and productivity gains in our public services and established businesses.”