New research from ScotlandIS, the trade body for the digital technologies industry, is forecasting strong growth for the digital technologies industry in Scotland, with 83 percent of organisations planning to increase staff numbers and 86 percent of businesses expecting sales to rise in the coming year.
There is a high demand for graduates in the tech industry, with 74 percent of organisations expecting to recruit before the end of 2015.
The annual survey sampled 150 organisations and was carried out on behalf of ScotlandIS, who represent over 300 software, telecoms, IT and digital agency businesses throughout Scotland, by Aberdeen & Grampian Chamber of Commerce. The survey also found that Scottish businesses are undertaking a significant amount of international activity, with Europe, USA and Canada seen as the most attractive overseas markets for the second year running.
ScotlandIS welcomed the positive outlook for the year ahead. Polly Purvis, CEO of ScotlandIS, says:
“This is great news for a vibrant industry which is going from strength to strength. There has never been a better time to get into software and IT. For young people considering their career options our industry offers huge opportunities, from founding your own tech start-up to international marketing as Scottish technology businesses increasingly move into global markets.”
While Purvis cautions that a shortage of skilled people could stop the industry reaching its full potential she is confident that work is underway to address the problem. She says:
“The skills gap is beginning to hit home, causing wage inflation and making it harder for companies to retain experience, so we are pleased to see the public sector and our members working together to find a solution. We have welcomed initiatives such as the Skills Investment Plan for Scotland’s Digital Technologies and ICT Industries, and we are glad to see that its recommendations are being put into action. By dealing with this problem now we will ensure that our industry is able to continue to grow and contribute to the Scottish economy.”
Over two thirds of businesses surveyed reported sales growth in 2014, with the strongest results coming from small and medium sized companies. 42 percent of businesses reported increased margins with a further 36 percent reporting stable profit margins during 2014. 2015 should be a particularly good year for medium sized companies, with 96 percent expecting an increase in sales of the next twelve months.
Some 80,000 people work in the digital technologies industry in Scotland, which contributes £4 billion GVA to the economy and is increasingly adding to export revenues.
Following the General Election result, which saw the Scottish Nationalist Party (SNP), win 56 of Scotland’s 59 seats, news of economic prosperity north of the border will come as timely news for leader Nicola Sturgeon.