Skills shortage: Renewables & IT

Tuesday 3rd April 2012
Human capital shortfall for critical growth business : Courtesy: and

Scotland will not have the skilled workforce it needs to meet the demand of the renewable energy targets of 2020 or that of the burgeoning IT skills demand unless these are promoted as a worthwhile careers and with appeal for both young women and men, education and business experts are warning.

MSPs on Holyrood’s energy committee were told attempts to attract workers to the industry were being hampered by mixed messages in the media, a lack of promotion of the career path in schools, cuts to college funding and courses that did not equip people with the skills they needed, reported  BBCNews Scotland.

Scottish Government aims to generate the equivalent of 100 % of electricity demand from renewable sources by 2020 by developing offshore wind and tidal energy. Giving evidence to the committee as part of its inquiry into the target, Linda Greig, director of business and sponsorship at Carnegie College (right)  said colleges did not have enough awareness of the kind of jobs available in the renewables industry, which was not being seen as an “attractive” career path.

“Trying to get the throughput from schools is tremendously difficult,” she said. “We are not seeing enough women coming into engineering. It is still seen as a ‘dirty trade’.

Turning to the courses on offer, Ms Greig referred to recent comments by  (left) Dr Peter Hughes, CEO of Scottish Engineering, who described some of them as “Mickey Mouse”.

“He is absolutely right. In order to deliver the kind of quality programmes we are talking about, that allow young people to be in an industrial environment, see employers coming in, you need the venue, you need the resource, the kit, the staff," she said. “It is very, very expensive. I think there are only a few centres that can deliver that kind of programme.”

The demand for jobs in Digital Technologies is outperforming all other sectors in Scotland, sparking the need for a raft of skilled staff.  That’s the latest findings from the Scottish technology industry’s annual ‘barometer’ which shows that nearly two thirds of all respondents (63.5 %) expect to take on more staff this year.

The Scottish Technology Industry Survey, commissioned by ScotlandIS and 9-20 recruitment includes the software, telecoms and IT services sectors. With some 40,000 new professionals needed in the next 5 years, findings reinforced by this month’s Bank of Scotland Report on Jobs, showing that demand for permanent jobs in IT and computing is ahead of other sectors in Scotland and it has the fastest rate of vacancy growth.

“The survey results and industry findings reinforce the message that’s coming back from our members– skilled jobs in the digital technology industry are in abundance," says (right) Polly Purvis, executive director of ScotlandIS " The sector is an exceptional place to work; it offers flexible working, interesting and varied roles that are highly paid with the opportunity to travel.”

Those with commercial and business skills are the most sought after (72 %), just ahead of software and web development skills (67%) and offers hope to Scotland’s bright new talent, as graduates now top the category of staff most in demand at 52%.  As headcount is set to rise in this sector, so too are sales.  The survey showed that 75% of respondents expect their sales to increase this year.

The Technology sector already employs over 100,000 people in Scotland.  Gross weekly earnings for an IT full time employed professional is currently £630 a week, a massive 34% higher than the average wage across Scotland.  This with the flood of new jobs emerging onto the market, will stand the Technology Sector in good stead to attract bright young talent in the future.

“The survey results are great news for the hundreds of newly qualified graduates who will be hitting the market in the summer," says  (left) 9-20 recruitment MD Wendy McDougall.   "The challenge is to keep the talent coming through the pipeline from universities and colleges to keep up with the demand for skilled workers in the Digital Technology Industries”.

Simon Mone, MD of web strategies Mimtech and Scotland IS board member (right)  said: “We have been recruiting over the past six months for staff with both business and technical skills and we have found the market to be very competitive.

"Prospective employees are choosing between several offers on the table and we have to offer more to attract the talent we want. It’s clear that recruiting skilled staff will become even more competitive during 2012 and this is reflected in the survey results.” 

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