Scots tech industry charging ahead with solid job demand

The jobs market for IT experts is set to remain strong in Scotland, with two thirds of businesses planning to increase their headcounts this year, a survey today reveals.

ScotlandIS chief executive Polly Purvis welcomed findings. Picture: Chris Watt

The research by trade body ScotlandIS also shows that 68 per cent of firms achieved sales growth in 2015, with more than a quarter reporting an increase in turnover of 20 per cent or more.

According to the annual Scottish Technology Industry Survey, the proportion of companies selling their products or services overseas continued to increase, with some 60 per cent reporting some international sales in 2015, up from 57 per cent the previous year.

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Looking ahead, 81 per cent of businesses expect sales to increase over the next 12 months and 70 per cent are either optimistic or very optimistic about the coming year.

Polly Purvis, chief executive of ScotlandIS, said: “Our industry has experienced exceptional growth in recent years and 84,000 people are now employed in digital technologies roles across Scotland.

“It’s really positive to see that so many of our members are expecting sales growth in 2016 and the increase in the number of companies doing business overseas is particularly encouraging.”

She added: “2015 was an exceptional year in terms of demand for new staff and demand continues to outstrip supply. Most of our members report difficulties in finding the staff they need, so we must continue efforts to develop a strong and sustainable talent pipeline.”

She reiterated her recent message that Scotland had the potential to create 70,000 digital technologies jobs over the next five years, while calling for investment in connectivity, skills and research.

The report was based on the responses from 192 organisations across ScotlandIS’s membership and the wider industry during January and February.

Computing graduates are set to be in high demand, with 74 per cent of businesses expecting to hire people who recently completed their studies.

Software and web development were found to be the most sought after skill sets, followed by business skills such as project management, sales and marketing.

Medium-sized businesses achieved the best performance in 2015, with 82 per cent reporting increased sales, while 47 per cent also reported improved profit margins. The proportion of medium-sized firms exporting grew from 49 to 70 per cent and nine out of ten businesses expect sales to increase in 2016.

Scotland’s digital technologies industry is worth more than £5 billion to the economy, and according to KPMG’s Tech Monitor the number of tech sector enterprises in Scotland grew 43.3 per cent between 2010 and 2015, second only to London, where the increase was 54.6 per cent.