By PETER RANSCOMBE
Published on Sunday 1 April 2012 00:00
SCOTLAND’S computing companies are crying out for staff with “commercial and business” skills, according to the annual “health check” by the industry’s trade body.
ScotlandIS’s survey of the £4 billion IT industry found that two-thirds of businesses plan to take on staff in the year ahead.
But, in a turnaround from last year’s results, more than 70 per cent of firms want to recruit staff with commercial skills – such as business development and marketing – rather than technical skills like programming.
Three-quarters of companies expected their sales to increase in the year ahead.
The software and IT industry is the fastest-growing sector of the Scottish economy, according to the E-skills sector skills council, with 40,000 jobs expected to be created over the next five years.
But Polly Purvis, executive director of ScotlandIS, warned that the industry needs to shed its nerdy image to attract enough recruits.
“There are still some sandal-wearing hippies working in darkened rooms, but most IT professionals work in bright offices nowadays and enjoy high pay and international travel,” Purvis said.
Graduates are in high demand, with 52 per cent of firms saying they want to take on university leavers, up from 28 per cent last year.
While the trade body has built up working relationships with Scotland’s further education colleges and universities to ensure that the profession is promoted to students, Purvis said the industry needed to be promoted to schoolpupils.
“We found that there was a lot of out-of-date information out there when it came to careers advice,” Purvis said.
“So we’ve spent time with Skills Development Scotland to make sure that it has the right information to give to pupils and the sector skills council has also been working on the issue.”
The IT sector already employs more than 100,000 people in Scotland, with the average wage standing at £630 a week, a third higher than the Scottish average.
Wendy McDougall, managing director of 9-20 Recruitment, which helped compile the report, added: “The survey results are great news for the hundreds of newly qualified graduates who will be hitting the market in the summer. The challenge is keeping the talent coming through the pipeline from universities and colleges to keep up with the demand for skilled workers.”
Simon Mone – managing director of Glasgow-based website design firm Mimtech, which counts the British Council, Historic Scotland and Stirling Castle among its clients – has recruited both business and technical staff in the past six months.
He found the jobs market to be “very competitive”.
Mone added: “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.”
Companies operating within Scotland’s IT sector have posted bumper results over recent months as the demand rises for “cloud computing” internet services and online retailing.
Last month, Glasgow-based Iomart, which is run by dotcom survivor Angus MacSween, said it expected to nearly double its profits to £6.7 million in the year to 31 March as a growing number of companies outsource their IT departments.
MacSween’s brother-in-law Bill Dobbie is also enjoying success with Cupid – the Edinburgh-based dating website operator that he runs – recently posting a 69 per cent rise in pre-tax profits for 2011 to £7m.