Tech sector adds £5bn to Scots economy with 100,000 jobs

Scotland's tech industry supports almost 100,000 jobs, including DC Craig Potter, who works at the cyber crime operations unit at Police Scotland. Picture: Contributed
Scotland's tech industry supports almost 100,000 jobs, including DC Craig Potter, who works at the cyber crime operations unit at Police Scotland. Picture: Contributed
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Scotland’s tech industry supports almost 100,000 jobs and is growing one and a half times faster than the economy overall, new research indicates.

National skills agency Skills Development Scotland (SDS) has revealed that the tech industry contributed £4.9 billion to the Scottish economy in 2018, with around 100,000 people employed as tech professionals across all sectors.

Sector manager for digital technologies Claire Gillespie hailed 'phenomenal' opportunities. Picture: Contributed

Sector manager for digital technologies Claire Gillespie hailed 'phenomenal' opportunities. Picture: Contributed

The report forecasts that tech will be Scotland’s second fastest growing industry over the next ten years, beaten only by childcare services.

SDS calculated there are more than 13,000 tech-related job opportunities each year in Scotland.

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It also recorded a typical tech salary as £36,900, 26 per cent higher than the Scottish average, and found pay for tech professionals is rising faster than in other sectors, at 15 per cent compared with an overall increase of 11 per cent.

Sector manager for digital technologies Claire Gillespie said: “There has been a shift from the traditional role of tech as a business support function to being an integral and fundamental part of just doing business.

“Although this report focuses on the tech companies, the reality is digital skills are now vital for every organisation, across the entire economy.

“The career opportunities are phenomenal, exciting and hugely rewarding, especially in fast-paced sectors like fintech, digital health, gaming and even the digital transformation of the public sector.”

More than half (53 per cent) of businesses expect to increase the number of digital vacancies in the next 12 months, however three quarters (76 per cent) of tech employers anticipate recruitment challenges.

The total number of students undertaking computing science degrees has risen by 20 per cent since 2014/15, while there has been a 12 per cent decline in uptake of the subject among school pupils.

Although the proportion of women in tech roles increased from 18 per cent to 23 per cent between 2015 and 2018, SDS claimed more action is needed to address both the skills and gender gaps.

Gillespie stressed the growing popularity and importance of “alternative pathways” into digital jobs.

She said: “The type of qualifications on offer in schools have been widening. Apprenticeships offer a great alternative to traditional academic routes for youngsters, as do the National Progression Awards. And of course maths is a particularly good way of getting into computing related work.

“So although the decline in computer science uptake is concerning, there are plenty of other options and opportunities for pupils interested in careers in digital technology.”

Digital minister Kate Forbes added: “We are in a strong position to respond to global challenges and opportunities such as the impact of technological change, and this report highlights the progress being made in addressing the digital skills gaps.”