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Tech in ScotlandIS thriving again

Tech in ScotlandIS thriving again

Posted on 5th May 2022

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Most people will be aware that at the end of last month the annual ScotlandIS Technology Industry Survey* was published.  It was, I think it’s fair to say, largely good news, with nearly three-quarters (72%) of tech companies reporting an increase in their sales, following a drop of 44% in the previous year.  Equally importantly, the economy as a whole is back to pre-pandemic levels, although the increasingly tense global geo-political situation and the continuing supply chain disruption in China are obvious concerns, with ScotlandIS reporting stagnating exports as a result of these two factors.

More specifically, tech businesses anticipate increasing rewards from growth in data analytics, artificial intelligence, and the IoT, although the largest increase in potential growth opportunities has been seen in cyber security. Almost one third (31%) of Scotland’s tech businesses are now seeing the latter as an opportunity in the months ahead.

That said, and despite the very good headline figures, the first key point in the press release about the survey results states that “Challenges lie ahead as labour shortage remains key obstacle.”

To say that’s stating the obvious is, well, stating the obvious.  In general terms, the ScotlandIS report notes that, “talent continues to stay in high demand across the industry and with wider impacts of a skills shortage across most sectors, this issue is becoming increasingly challenging for the industry to manage. Efforts to support businesses on the talent shortage will continue to be a priority this year as it remains one of the top barriers – alongside pandemic recovery – to achieving ambitions in the year ahead.”

It was also noted that many organisations are planning to hire more graduates and there is no doubt that expanding the network for and pipeline of graduate and indeed non-graduate (via training organisations such as CodeClan) will be vital.  However, as we at Be-IT have noted for many years, there is still a bit of a disconnect with what comes out of our universities and what employers actually want, both in terms of numbers (obviously) but also in terms of the training that students receive.  More significantly, the problem runs deeper, for it's to the schools that we need to look for the seed corn that will power our economy in the next decade.  Currently, there are simply not enough people, especially girls, coming through the secondary system.

As regards the IT jobs market itself, we (and, we are sure, some of our competitors) are having record months on a regular basis – a reflection of the huge demand for tech talent.  There is not doubt that it is a real challenge that is not likely to go away in the short-term.  Even if the cost-of-living crisis and soaring inflation lead to a downturn, the demand for techies will not diminish as there is now a realisation that these are the people who will help lead us forward. To that end, I’d encourage anyone who is not working in tech, but considering a career change, to investigate some of the various courses available for retraining. It could be the best step you ever make on your career journey.

Michael Phair, Operations Director, Be-IT

* The full report can be found here.

Posted in News, Opinion

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