New skills board unveiled by Scotland’s tech trade body

A unique group of leading figures from Scotland’s digital technology and education sectors have been brought together to form a new Skills Board, with the aim of bridging the country’s digital skills gap and providing strategic advice to the burgeoning sector.

The new Skills Board has been created by ScotlandIS, the membership and cluster management organisation for the digital technologies industry in Scotland, and includes representatives from across private and public sector, educational institutions, and government.

The Board will be chaired by Paul Houlden, Chair, College Development Network. and amongst its members are Prof. Wayne Powell, Principal and CEO of SRUC; Simon Hewitt, Principle and CEO of Dundee and Angus College; Ruth McKay, Headteacher at Portobello High School; and Dr Mark Zarb, Director of Education, SICSA, Alexander Ziegler, Program Director, Training and Skills at IBM, and Prof. Graeme Leach, CEO Global Macroeconomics

Research has shown that there were as many as 13,000 digital technology vacancies across the country pre-Covid, and the Skills Board aims to make inroads into that figure as its main priority.

Karen Meechan, Interim CEO of ScotlandIS, said: “Digital underpins everything we do now in society, but the stark reality is that Scotland is not currently producing enough graduates to hit the demand levels of our burgeoning tech sector. This new Skills Board will be looking at how we bridge the skills gap and training for the next generation for jobs that haven’t been created yet.

“It is important we have people at the coal face of the tech industry who have the seniority and strategic perspective to provide an effective communication channel between industry and education and can bring leadership to this issue.”

ScotlandIS has worked with Skills Development Scotland (SDS) on the Skills Investment Plan and its various outputs for several years, and the various opportunities available through the Digital Start Fund and will continue to do so.

The creation of Digital Xtra Fund has enabled initiatives aimed at children and young people to be funded and capture their imagination at an early age, while CodeClan is retraining and upskilling many new people into the sector.

Karen Meechan added: “The role of the board will not be a reactive one, but to scan the horizon and offer proactive consultation and strategic input. They will be providing collaboration wherever possible across a variety of private sectors, as well as government and education.

“This board does not want to replicate the great work of the digital economy team within SDS, but rather to work with them and encourage more active participation from across industry.”

More information about the new Skills Board and a full list of its members can be found on the ScotlandIS website.