In his third exclusive column for FutureScot, Donald McLaughlin, Chair of SDS’ Digital Technology Skills Group, looks back on a busy and successful 2018.

January is the usual time for reflection and thinking about past achievements, but I used last month’s column to talk about the record number of women joining the tech sector (a rise from 18% to 23.4% in the last two years). In this column, I want to highlight some of the successes that SDS and the DTSG achieved in 2018, beyond just helping to get more females into our industry.

Digital Cities

We went on the road in partnership with FutureScot to promote the Foundation Apprenticeships in Hardware, Software and Creative & Digital. Unsurprisingly, this brilliant new approach to helping school pupils prepare for a digital career was very well received.

Digital Challenge

We worked with Girlguiding Scotland to create the country’s first digital activity badge designed to encourage girls of all ages to develop the skills they need for their digital future.

Cyber Live

We launched a series of live and online cyber security lessons for S1, S2 and S3 pupils which were designed to give pupils an insight into one of the fastest growing industries in the UK (as well as teaching them about personal protection online). More than 6700 pupils have completed the courses so far.

Digital Learning

We were delighted to partner with the Scottish Education Awards and to see Tynecastle High School win the Digital Learning and Teaching Award.  It was great to see some amazing examples of nurseries and schools helping young people embrace digital technology and skills.


We worked with Education Scotland to help establish the Digital School Award Scotland which was originally aimed at primary schools, but in 2018 we saw the first secondary schools attain their award. We also ran a series of professional development talks for teachers, so they could learn more about how technology is shaping future careers and the opportunities for young people. We also launched new e-learning resources on the SQA Academy to support educators delivering the refreshed National 5 and Higher Computing Science courses.


The Minister for Public Finance & Digital Economy Kate Forbes MSP was the keynote speaker at our “Developing Your Digital Workforce” event which was designed to inform businesses about all the support available to enhance their digital capability.

Further Education

The Digital Skills Partnership, which SDS funded in partnership with ScotlandIS, has been working with employers to deliver industry led CPD to college and university lecturers to ensure they had an up to date picture of the sector.

Scottish Government

During Scottish Apprenticeship Week 2018 we worked with the Scottish Government to launch their cyber skills action plan, which aims to improve awareness of cyber security while developing a deep pool of talent to tackle online and digital threats.

CES 2018

We got right behind Computer Science Educating Week (3-9 December 2018) which is backed by the likes of Bill Gates and Facebook’s Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg. We organised a series of hands-on computer science events in Dundee, Inverness and Edinburgh, and an online cyber security tutorial which could be accessed nationally.

As you can see it was a busy and productive year, but be assured the members of the DTSG will not rest on their laurels, and we all look forward to building on this success in 2019 and beyond.