Digital sector in positive mood
Firms shrug off Brexit to seek overseas labour
Polly Purvis: ‘a continuing need for skilled newcomers’
Digital companies are showing greater confidence in hiring from outside the UK, despite ongoing concerns over a Brexit squeeze on immigrant labour.
Confidence appears to have grown in hiring from further afield with 19% planning to find new recruits mainly outside the UK, up from 9% last year.
Even so, the local marketplace is anticipated to provide the bulk of new talent with 70% expecting to recruit from within Scotland.
These were the key findings in the 13th annual Scottish Technology Industry Survey by trade body ScotlandIS.
It detected a positive mood in the sector with eight in ten of those surveyed expecting to increase employee numbers in the next 12 months, up from 66% in 2016.
More than seven in ten (73%) of those responding said they were ‘definitely’ or ‘quite likely’ to recruit graduates. This figure has stayed relatively steady over the last five years.
Demand for Modern Apprentices is up, with 45% saying they would be ‘definitely’ or ‘quite likely’ recruit in this way, compared to 38% in 2017 and 29% in 2016.
Software & web development and commercial & business support are the most in demand skills.
This year, for the first time, ScotlandIS polled members on steps they were taking to tackle the gender gap.
More than half had found that offering flexible work patterns had helped in recruiting female staff.
The vast majority of employers had either tried or were considering this and other initiatives such as providing more female role models when engaging with schools and universities, return to work training, and supporting groups like Girl Geeks and Scottish Women in Technology.
The survey revealed that 80% of respondents expect a positive 2018 with nearly one third forecasting more than 50% increase in sales. Increased profit margins were reported by 47% of respondents.
Changes to regulations, such as the introduction of GDPR, emerged as a new challenge.
International markets remain a key focus with 64% of businesses already exporting and a further 17% planning to do so.
As in previous years, the top three export markets remain the Rest of the UK, Europe and North America. Europe has, however, replaced the Rest of the UK as the top destination for exporters.
Polly Purvis, chief executive of ScotlandIS, said: “The overwhelming majority of respondents are optimistic about the year ahead and are forecasting business growth. This is good news not just for our industry but the country as a whole as more jobs are created and investment increases across the sector.
“As in previous years, there are significant concerns over staff recruitment and retention and to a smaller extent about the impact of Brexit,” Mrs Purvis added.
“There is a continuing need for skilled newcomers to ensure our businesses can fulfil their potential.”
There were 205 respondents to the Scottish Technology Industry Survey 2018. Polling took place during January and February this year.