How digitisation is increasingly key for Scotland - comment

In November 2019, McKinsey & Co released a report on UK plc, which indicated that two- thirds of the nation’s workforce could be lacking in basic digital skills, while more than ten million people risked being underskilled in leadership, communication and decision-making.

‘We need to keep up – otherwise we risk being left behind by other countries,’ says the businesswoman. Picture: Stewart Attwood.

Picture by Stewart Attwood


All images © Stewart Attwood Photography 2019.  All other rights are reserved. Use in any other context is expressly prohibited without prior permission. No Syndication Permitted.
‘We need to keep up – otherwise we risk being left behind by other countries,’ says the businesswoman. Picture: Stewart Attwood. Picture by Stewart Attwood All images © Stewart Attwood Photography 2019. All other rights are reserved. Use in any other context is expressly prohibited without prior permission. No Syndication Permitted.

The research findings by McKinsey suggest UK companies will need to respond by “transitioning up to a third of their workforces into new roles or skill levels over the next decade”.

If UK companies fail to do this, says McKinsey, they could find themselves with even more acute shortages of talent than today. Importantly, the global management consulting firm says potential talent shortages “will not only be among technology specialists and engineers, but also among the managers needed to lead change and upskill teams, especially in customer-facing service roles”.

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Fast-forward six months, and the business world finds itself in the first throes of a financial crisis stemming from Covid-19 that is only going to exacerbate the trends identified by McKinsey. At CodeClan, we want to be part of the solution in the Scottish context.

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Already nearly 1,000 of our graduates are working with more than 250 companies, from start-ups to multinationals, armed with the latest skills in software development and data analytics.

We know that digitisation and data will be crucial in guiding our business scene through the coronavirus pandemic and then out the other side. As part of this process, we are going out to companies across Scotland, including in the network that already employs CodeClan graduates, to ask them what they need to upskill their teams so we can do an even better job of helping them to achieve digital savviness and empowerment.

We would also like to hear from other businesses we are not yet connected with.

Opportunity

We know that many businesses can go into “hiding mode” when it comes to the kind of digital skills uptake required for their people and their growth potential. We don’t think business leaders should be afraid of digitisation, rather start thinking about it as an opportunity to become far more competitive.

With the global nature of business in the 21st century, only increased in the wake of the latest technological advances, we need to keep up – otherwise we risk being left behind by other countries and regions.

As Finance Secretary Kate Forbes said in our recent announcement on transitioning to a virtual classroom model: “It’s important that candidates continue to receive the excellent digital skills training that will prepare them for exciting careers in the new high-tech, low-carbon economy, which is going to play an important role in Scotland’s post-pandemic future.”

At CodeClan we talk about “future-proofing” the careers of our candidates and this is now more relevant than ever because of the current health crisis and how it affects the work dynamic in the months and years ahead. Not only do new employees need to understand how critical software applications and data-driven decisions are, but we need to reach all of the employees in a business to manage and survive the impact of the pandemic.

I believe we have plenty of reasons to be optimistic in Scotland. Our technology community has a seasoned air about it in 2020, we have produced world-beating tech and attracted some of the fastest-growing international technology companies to set up offices here.

We have a world-renowned university sector and a government that wants to support all things digital. At the same time, we cannot rest on our laurels and we cannot afford to put our head in the sand.

Now is the time to act on what commentators, industry leaders and economists are telling us. If we can truly embrace digitisation in Scotland, it will be to everyone’s benefit.

Melinda Matthews-Clarkson, chief executive of digital skills and coding academy CodeClan

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