Digital tech is fastest growing sector in Scotland, claims report

The digital technology sector is forecast to grow twice as fast as the Scottish economy overall in the years to 2024, according to research published by Skills Development Scotland and the Digital Technologies Skills Group. This growth is ‘creating unprecedented demand for digital skills with employers across all sectors seeking to harness the benefits of technology to drive innovation and increase competitiveness’. The new publication, Scotland’s Digital Technologies, found that digital tech was the fastest growing sector of the economy accounting for five percent of Scotland’s total business base and employing two per cent of the national workforce.

The number of tech businesses rose by 53 percent between 2010 and 2015 – almost three times as fast as businesses across Scotland in its entirety (19 percent). Micro businesses employing 1-10 employees account for 95 percent of firms in the sector.

Over 60,000 people are employed in tech businesses across Scotland with 60 percent working in tech roles and 40 percent working in other types of jobs. The top three employment areas are Glasgow City (29 percent), Edinburgh (23 percent) and West Lothian (9 percent).

Tech professionals are in demand across the whole economy and over 90,000 people are employed in tech roles in all sectors in Scotland – a 10 per cent increase in employment from 2015-2016. Two fifths are employed in tech businesses with the remainder employed in other sectors such as finance, creative industries, engineering and healthcare.

Claire Gillespie, key sector manager for ICT and digital skills at Skills Development Scotland, said: “The digital technologies sector is expanding and is a key contributor to the economic growth and global competitiveness of every sector in Scotland.

“This growth is creating significant job opportunities for skilled workers, particularly young people and other new entrants across a wide range of roles. The Digital Technologies Skills Group is working to broaden the talent pipeline for the future to ensure Scotland can achieve its digital potential.”

Scottish Government Finance Secretary, Derek Mackay, said: “Scotland has a proud tradition as a digital leader and today this government is putting digital technology at the heart of everything we do, from reforming our public services to boosting digital skills and fostering our tech sector.

“In March this year we published our ambitious refreshed digital strategy which reflects our vision for this area by aiming to create 150,000 digital jobs, ensuring all premises have access to broadband speeds of at least 30Mbps by 2021, and integrating digital into schools and further education.

“Today’s report is good news and underlines the importance of digital skills to our economic and inclusive growth.  We will continue to work across Government, with Skills Development Scotland and our other partners, to build on these strong foundations and meet future challenges, including through our STEM strategy which will be finalised later this year.”

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