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INSIGHT


Starting young, investing in skills and working with industry – a series of measures designed to stimulate the tech economy in Scotland


Ensuring learners in Scotland experience an education ‘enriched’ by digital technology


BY KATE FORBES


In 2019, digital technology is as commonplace in society as light- ing, heating or any of our other utilities. We access more online services than ever before, we have more access to information than at any point in history and more of our economy and jobs market are dependent on digital skills. Tese trends look set to continue long into the future. However, despite there being


around 100,000 people working in digital technology roles across Scotland, businesses are still struggling to recruit staff with the digital skills that can help them to grow. In fact, recent research has shown that we need around 13,000 new people entering digi- tal roles each year for Scotland to fully realise its digital ambitions. Te Scottish Government is work- ing hard to make this happen. Trough our Public/Private


partnership Digital Skills Group, for example, we have invested £12.5m into digital skills over the past six years. From this, we have helped fund and launch CodeClan – creating the first industry-led


digital skills academy in Scotland and over 700 graduates have now progressed from the programme into the jobs market. But as well as focusing on those


at the later stages of the educa- tion pipeline, we also need to make sure we are getting young people interested in tech and in related career options as early as possible. Software development, web design, marketing and cyber security – these are just a few of the specialisms being looked for by businesses across Scotland. We know that our children and


young people love technology. We need to capture this interest and build on it from the early years and throughout their education. Te Digital World marketing campaign, created and funded by our Digital Skills Partnership, is a great example of this. It is also absolutely vital that


our education system is taking full advantage of the opportuni- ties offered by digital technology – both in terms of enhancing and supporting the learning experi- ence, and in ensuring that our young people have the digital skills that they need in our mod-


8 | FUTURESCOT | AUTUMN 2019


ern society, laying the founda- tions for a pipeline of talent into digital industries in Scotland. Trough our Digital Learning


and Teaching Strategy for Scot- land, published in 2016, we are aiming to create the conditions to enrich learning and teaching across all parts of the curriculum in schools through the use of digital technology. Our five-year STEM Strategy,


published in 2017, aims to engage and include people from all walks of life to develop STEM knowl- edge and skills to benefit both the economy and society. Tis includes skills in digital, cyber and computing.


Data and digital skills are an increasingly prominent feature of education in the early years, primary and secondary schools. All of this is underpinned by our focus in the Scottish curriculum on numeracy and mathematics. We have also updated the national school curriculum guidance to introduce a clear expectation that young people learn the funda- mentals of computing science, cyber security and digital skills


from their earliest years of educa- tion through to secondary school. We are providing support in


this area through a dedicated team of Digital Officers in Educa- tion Scotland and through profes- sional learning opportunities for teachers that Education Scotland is developing in partnership with the British Computer Society and tech firms including BT. Te Digi- tal Schools Award, supported by HP, Intel and Microsoft as well as public sector partners, celebrates the achievements of schools and nurseries in embedding digital technology and digital skills development within learning and teaching. Fifty-one-per-cent of schools in Scotland have signed up to the award.


The Scottish Government is taking a range of actions to sup- port the recruitment of comput- ing science teachers. Tis includes bursaries of £20,000 for career changers to train to become STEM teachers in subjects where there are shortages, including comput- ing. We are also introducing a range of alternative routes into teaching to make it more practical


Kate Forbes, Minister for Public Finance & Digital Economy


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