In his exclusive column for FutureScot, Donald McLaughlin, Chair of SDS’ Digital Technology Skills Group, enthuses about the success of Cyber Scotland Week and a new digital skills website.

The National Cyber Security Centre’s annual conference, CyberUK 2019, came to Glasgow and Scotland for the first time in April this year. The UK government’s flagship cyber security event attracted more than 2,000 delegates who came together to debate and discuss the latest trends, issues and opportunities relating to online security.

Recognising this conference coup for Glasgow, the Scottish Government and ScotlandIS created Cyber Scotland Week, which saw a range of partners come together to deliver an amazing series of events that really put cyber resilience on the map.

Thirty events, covering Orkney in the North right through to Tweedbank in South (and everywhere in between), took place throughout the week, the biggest being at the Glasgow Science Centre.

More than 600 school pupils – as well as the Deputy First Minister – attended interactive workshops, with opportunities to meet expert cyber specialists as well as enjoying a “Cracking Crypotography” session set up by SDS and My World of Work.

Feedback from the week revealed that 91% of people will change the way they use digital services due to what they learned throughout those seven days.

SDS also took the opportunity to reveal fantastic news about its Discover Cyber lessons during that week. More than 27,000 school pupils and teachers have benefited from this education programme in the last two years, proving that the demand for digital skills in schools is at an all-time high.

Discover Cyber launched in 2016, with a target of reaching 4,000 pupils and teachers in the space of four years. The fact this target was blown out the water shows the message is definitely getting through about the great career opportunities in Scotland’s fastest growing industry.

There are nearly 13,000 digital job vacancies each year which need to be filled, and that is growing rapidly. We need to look at all avenues to plug this skills gap, and although targeting schools is a longer-term strategy, it’s an extremely important one.

SDS also unveiled a revamp of its Digital World website during Cyber Week. We as a group were closely involved with its creation along with the dedicated team at SDS. It’s been supported by a digital marketing campaign aiming to persuade young people to become digital humans, so they can “fast forward their future”.

It’s way cooler, edgier and more interactive than the previous site, and we as a team have no doubt it will do a great job encouraging people to retrain and upskill to not only fast forward their own future, but also the future of Scotland’s tech sector.

To get a flavour of the Discover Cyber programme, including a sample of the Meet The Expert videos – and to check out the new website – visit Digital World.