Scotland’s technology industry, along with schools, colleges and universities, are being asked to do more to help neurodivergent people into jobs to plug the widening skills gap in the fast-growing digital economy. 

A report published by Skills Development Scotland (SDS) states that tech employers in particular are missing out on a massive talent pool, with proven skills that can improve productivity, creativity and innovation in the workplace. 

Neurodiversity in Digital Technology recommends tech employers take action to benefit from increased neurodiversity in their teams, including changing job ads to be more inclusive and easier to read, and introducing more flexible recruitment processes that offer more practical task-based interviews. 

The report also made it clear that more needs to be done in schools and further education to encourage neurodivergent people to study digital technology skills. 

Claire Gillespie, Digital Technology Skills Manager at SDS, said: “We need to change the attitudes of those with a poor understanding of neurodiversity, as well as their reactions to people who display different behaviours. We also need to adapt the way neurodivergents are taught, such as less focus on writing for those with dyslexia and less group work for those with autism.” 

Beverley Harrow, who lives in St Andrews, Fife and is the mother of two children with Asperger’s, welcomed the report. Her youngest son, 16-year-old Geordie, has decided to pursue a career in cyber security after attending an SDS workshop on ethical hacking. He is also now undertaking a Foundation Apprenticeship in Software Engineering. 

She said: “I’ve got a lot to thank SDS for. Not only did they help steer Geordie on to a career path he is ideally suited to, but knew nothing about until the workshop, they have also produced this much-needed report which verifies what I’ve always campaigned for. 

“I strongly believe that disability should never be a barrier to achievement, but to facilitate success it will take the combined skills of the educators and employers to make this the norm rather than the exception.” 

SDS is also encouraging tech companies to plug the ever growing skills gap by recruiting apprentices. Employing and training new starts can sometimes be time-consuming and costly, however, apprenticeships offer an ideal solution. You get financial help to bring in young, passionate and motivated talent, who can hit the ground running and contribute to the bottom line very quickly as they put into practice what they learn. 

SDS is also keen to point out that apprenticeships are not just for new starts. Work-based learning can also be used for upskilling and reskilling existing staff. So, if jobs are changing, then a tech-based apprenticeship can upskill/reskill someone from one role to another while allowing the organisation to keep the wider knowledge that person has of the business. 

There are digital apprenticeships for a range of tech roles. GRADUATE APPRENTICESHIPS l Cyber Security l Data Science l IT: Software Development l IT: Management for Business MODERN APPRENTICESHIPS l IT & Telecoms l IT & Telecoms Technical l Information Security l Information Security Technical l Digital Marketing l Creative and Digital l Digital Applications l Project Management Technical l Data Analysis Technical FOUNDATION APPRENTICESHIPS l Creative and Digital l IT: Software Development l IT: Hardware and Systems Support 

To read the Neurodiversity in Digital Technology report visit here.