We are working with public sector partners and industry representatives to address skills issues in Scotland’s digital sector, with a programme of work built around the recommendations in the 2014 digital skills investment plan. Examples of that collaborative work include the recent opening of CodeClan, an industry-led digital skills academy that is designed to help to meet the immediate digital skills needs that are faced by Scottish businesses. We have also funded the digital world marketing campaign to raise awareness about the careers and opportunities that digital skills and qualifications can create. The campaign is aimed at young people and women in particular.
The cabinet secretary will be aware that it is estimated that 100 million citizens throughout Europe have insufficient digital skills and are excluded from the digital society. What are the Scottish Government and Scotland’s colleges doing to support the development of vital computer skills in the industry?
A great deal of work is going on, some of which I mentioned in my first answer.
The colleges have long acknowledged the importance of responding to the need for science, technology, engineering and mathematics courses, including in computing skills. As a primary provider of those courses, colleges have a significant role to play in ensuring that they are prioritised. In its guidance to the sector, the Scottish Further and Higher Education Funding Council has recommended that colleges use the information from skills investment plans and regional skills assessments and engage with local employers to assess which courses are required to meet regional need.
Just yesterday, my colleague Angela Constance visited Dundee and Angus College’s code academy, which provides a good opportunity to show all the young people and children who are involved with it the huge variety of jobs that are available in our technologies industries. That is just one example of the work that is being done in the colleges.