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Demand for staff outstrips supply

Thriving digital sector striving to tackle skills shortage

Polly PurvisScotland’s digital technologies industry experienced strong growth in 2015 but the sector’s success is creating a skills shortage, according to new research by ScotlandIS.

Published today, the Scottish Technology Industry Survey 2016 reveals that 68% of businesses achieved sales growth in 2015, with over a quarter reporting an increase in turnover of 20% or more.

The annual survey2, carried out by ScotlandIS, also found that the proportion of companies selling their products or services overseas continued to increase from 57% the previous year, with over 60% reporting some international sales in 2015.

Looking ahead, 81% of businesses expect sales to increase over the next 12 months and 70% are optimistic or very optimistic about the coming year, with the industry on course to continue its rapid growth.

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.”

Graduates will once again be in high demand, with 74% of businesses expecting to hire those who have recently completed their studies.

Overall, the recruitment market should remain strong, with two-thirds of businesses planning to increase their payroll. Software and web development are the most sought-after skill sets, followed by business skills such as project management, sales and marketing.

Commenting on the recruitment findings, Polly Purvis said: “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 continued: “Scotland has the potential to create 70,000 digital technologies jobs over the next five years but investment in connectivity, skills, research and to provide growth capital will be needed to ensure we can take advantage of global and domestic opportunities.”

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

Scotland’s digital technologies industry generates more than £5 billion in GVA and, according to KPMG’s Tech Monitor, the number of tech sector enterprises in Scotland grew 43.3% between 2010 and 2015, second only to London (54.6 per cent).

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