In our own business, the effective sharing of knowledge is central to what we do. Knowledge comes in many forms and encompasses technical skills across the many disciplines in which we advise - including digital skills, soft skills, and experience, which are all essential to developing as a professional adviser. Internally, we share knowledge and insight to help our professional development, leverage our skills, and deliver better outcomes for clients.
Our education system is of course all about knowledge sharing and the Covid-19 pandemic has caused unprecedented challenges in a sector which was already under strain. The issues are of course varied and complex, but with a shortage of teachers, particularly in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects, perhaps we need to think differently about how we deliver the curriculum.
There is a clear shortage of digital skills in Scotland and the only long-term solution is the education and upskilling of our young people. Attracting STEM graduates into the teaching profession will remain challenging when there is a wealth of potentially more lucrative opportunities and we need to recognise that and use technology so that all schools have an ability to teach effectively, irrespective of whether they have a specialist in that subject. Digital Skills Scotland, set up to bridge the digital skills gap in this country, is an excellent example of using remote learning to improve employability prospects and address a shortage of digital skills.
Digital is now all pervasive across the business spectrum and in the world we live in; it is not simply the preserve of companies in the technology sector. We need everyone to have the opportunity to learn in this area and making knowledge available across our education system is critical to that.
The same principles should of course continue to apply beyond education. The Scottish Government is committed to implementing the recommendations of the Logan Report, and the formation of so-called “tech scalers” across Scotland is one of the foremost recommendations. It is anticipated that these tech scalers will be centres of excellence, providing best-in-class knowledge and insight to founders with the aim of supercharging the ecosystem.
However, we also need to recognise that tech entrepreneurship will continue to thrive outside of the tech scalers and there are already excellent programmes delivered across Scotland with obvious examples being Michelin Scotland Innovation Parc, CivTech, Opportunity North East, BioCity, EMEC, HIE Northern Innovation Hub as well as university campuses across the country.
Some companies participating in these programmes will have the opportunity to participate in a tech scaler, but for whoever is successful in tendering to deliver these programmes, it would be nice to see an initiative which allows the information and insight to be shared across the wider ecosystem, to ensure knowledge parity for all.
Shaun Millican, Head of Technology sector & Business Advisory partner, Johnston Carmichael