Scotland's Economy

Building Scotland’s digital economy

November 3, 2016 by No Comments | Category Economy, Public Services

Digital technology has fundamentally changed how we access information, learn, communicate and do business; it is vital to the future of our economy.

Scotland prides itself on being a nation which is vibrant, inclusive, open and outward looking. We have to support and encourage the skills needed to seize new opportunities and participate in an increasingly digital world, points I made today at the Scottish Parliament’s Digital debate and the SOCITM Annual Conference.

This will also be on the agenda when we refresh our Digital Strategy, which underpins how we will increase connectivity and make and digital participation available to everyone.

We are making significant progress in promoting digital participation. To ensure that everyone can benefit from a reliable broadband connection we are investing over £400 million to deliver 100% coverage by 2021. We are currently on track to achieve this, reaching our target of 85% coverage six months early, and with 95% projected to be in place by the end of 2017.

In 2015, there were over 83,000 people employed in ICT and digital technology roles, an economy that contributed £4.5 billion gross value (GVA) to the Scottish economy in 2013.

We have a thriving tech hub, with companies such as Skyscanner and Rockstar starting in Scotland and going on to achieve global success. This is something we want to see more of.

To facilitate this, we have made £15.5 million available over the past four years to help tackle digital skills shortages and help Scottish businesses become more digitally able, alongside investing over £120 million over six years through our Innovation Centre programme to being about further digital benefits for society.

The growth we want to see in our digital economy means we need more people with the right skills and knowledge.

In October 2015, the Deputy First Minister opened CodeClan, Scotland’s first industry-led digital skills academy, backed with over £2 million of SG funding. Since 2014 we have also invested £8.5 Million of funding into creating a digital skills pipeline to raise awareness about the career opportunities available in this sector to those with the right skills and qualification.

We have also doubled our student teacher intake target for Computing Science and developed a package of support to increase the confidence and capacity of teachers around digital literacy and Computing Science.

We are working to ensure that our public sector can still remain competitive, despite limited resources.

That is why we are undertaking a range of activity to build digital capability and skills within the Scottish public sector. Our Central Government Digital Transformation Service (DTS) has already completed projects with 25 public sector organisations to support and develop digital capability, and recruit and grow talent.

A 2015 Deloitte report for the Scottish Future’s Trust suggest a scenario in which Scotland could become a world leader in Digital by 2030, building a sector which would increase Scotland’s GDP by up to £13 billion and generate an extra 175,000 jobs.

This is the scale of our ambition, and this is what I mean when I say we want to realise Scotland’s full potential in the digital world.

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