Scotland’s digital technology sector is forecast to grow twice as fast as the Scottish economy overall in the years to 2024, a new report has claimed.
Skills Development Scotland and the Scottish government-backed Digital Technologies Skills Group said it was the economy’s fastest-growing sector.
Their report found that it accounted for 5% of Scotland’s total business base.
It also suggested that the sector now employed 2% of the national workforce.
The report said that was creating “unprecedented demand” for digital skills.
It is estimated that Scotland has up to 12,800 tech job opportunities annually – a 16% increase on previous demand forecasts of 11,000.
According to the report, the number of tech businesses rose by 53% between 2010 and 2015 – almost three times as fast as businesses across Scotland as a whole (19%).
Micro-businesses, employing between one and 10 employees, accounted for 95% of firms in the sector.
The report also found that more than 60,000 people were employed in tech businesses across Scotland. The top three employment areas were Glasgow (29%), Edinburgh (23%) and West Lothian (9%).
Reacting to the findings, Finance Secretary Derek Mackay said: “Scotland has a proud tradition as a digital leader and today this government is putting digital technology at the heart of everything we do, from reforming our public services to boosting digital skills and fostering our tech sector.
“In March this year we published our ambitious, refreshed, digital strategy which reflects our vision for this area by aiming to create 150,000 digital jobs, ensuring all premises have access to broadband speeds of at least 30Mbps by 2021, and integrating digital into schools and further education.
“Today’s report is good news and underlines the importance of digital skills to our economic and inclusive growth.”
Claire Gillespie, from Skills Development Scotland, said: “The digital technologies sector is expanding and is a key contributor to the economic growth and global competitiveness of every sector in Scotland.
“This growth is creating significant job opportunities for skilled workers, particularly young people and other new entrants across a wide range of roles.
The report comes days after the boss of the trade body for the digital technologies industry in Scotland was awarded an OBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list.
ScotlandIS chef executive Polly Purvis was granted the award for “services to the digital economy in Scotland”.
ScotlandIS represents 300 software, telecoms, IT and digital agency businesses. Its remit includes raising the profile of the industry in Scotland, lobbying policy makers and helping members develop business relationships with customers, suppliers and partner companies.
Ms Purvis has been at the helm of ScotlandIS since 2004 and is chairwoman of the digital skills academy CodeClan, which she and her team were instrumental in establishing in 2015.