Neurodivergents could help Scottish tech companies flourish

Scotland’s technology industry, along with schools, colleges and universities, are being asked to do more to help neurodivergent people into jobs to plug the widening skills gap in the fast- growing digital economy. A report published by Skills

Development Scotland (SDS) states that tech employers in particular are missing out on a massive talent pool, with proven skills that can improve productiv- ity, creativity and innovation in the workplace. Neurodiversity in Digital

Technology recommends tech employers take action to benefit from increased neurodiversity in their teams, including changing job ads to be more inclusive and easier to read, and introducing more flexible recruitment pro- cesses that offer more practical task-based interviews. Te report also made it clear

that more needs to be done in schools and further education to encourage neurodivergent people to study digital technology skills. Claire Gillespie, Digital Tech-

nology Skills Manager at SDS, said: “We need to change the attitudes of those with a poor un- derstanding of neurodiversity, as well as their reactions to people who display different behaviours. We also need to adapt the way neurodivergents are taught, such as less focus on writing for those with dyslexia and less group work for those with autism.” Beverley Harrow, who lives in St

Andrews, Fife and is the mother of two children with Asperger’s, welcomed the report. Her young- est son, 16-year-old Geordie, has decided to pursue a career in cyber security after attending an SDS workshop on ethical hack- ing. He is also now undertaking a Foundation Apprenticeship in Software Engineering. She said: “I’ve got a lot to

thank SDS for. Not only did they 58 | FUTURESCOT | WINTER 2020/21

Beverley Harrow, with her son Geordie, 16, who have welcomed the report and drive to encourage the tech sector to employ neurodivergent people

help steer Geordie on to a career path he is ideally suited to, but knew nothing about until the workshop, they have also pro- duced this much-needed report which verifies what I’ve always campaigned for. “I strongly believe that dis-

ability should never be a barrier to achievement, but to facilitate success it will take the com- bined skills of the educators and employers to make this the norm rather than the exception.” l

Apprentices are the future

SDS is also encouraging tech companies to plug the ever growing skills gap by recruiting apprentices. Employing and training new

starts can sometimes be time- consuming and costly, however, apprenticeships offer an ideal solution. You get financial help to bring in young, passionate and motivated talent, who can hit the ground running and contribute to the bottom line very quickly as they put into practice what they learn. SDS is also keen to point out that apprenticeships are not just for new starts. Work- based learning can also be used for upskilling and

reskilling existing staff. So, if jobs are changing, then a tech-based apprenticeship can upskill/reskill someone from one role to another while allowing the organisation to keep the wider knowledge that

person has of the business. There are digital apprentice- ships for a range of tech roles.

GRADUATE APPRENTICESHIPS l Cyber Security l Data Science l IT: Software Development l IT: Management for Business

MODERN APPRENTICESHIPS l IT & Telecoms l IT & Telecoms Technical l Information Security l Information Security Technical l Digital Marketing l Creative and Digital l Digital Applications l Project Management Technical l Data Analysis Technical


APPRENTICESHIPS l Creative and Digital l IT: Software Development l IT: Hardware and Systems Support

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