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OPINION: Scotland’s Digital Talent Shortage

Jessica Mullen


Jessica Mullen: Talent Shortage

Scotland has plenty of talented people, the problem is we don’t have enough of them and London is still luring away some of our top talent. 

After speaking at DIGIT’s digital transformation conference, I was really surprised at the topic that seemed to hit a nerve with the audience. Not flying cars, Chinese unicorns or voice UI. Not even bitcoin. The topic that people wanted to discuss was Talent. Specifically the shortage of it digital in Scotland.

It’s something I’m really interested in – as a business owner, in my role as BIMA council member and a supporter of Girl Geek Scotland. To be clear, I wasn’t saying that we don’t have talented people in Scotland. We have amazingly talented people in Scotland. We just don’t have enough of them.

Why is There a Shortage of Talent?

Whilst there are many reasons for this, here are some of my thoughts; many of our talented graduates are moving away – London is still a huge draw. And we’re not managing to replace them with talented graduates from other countries. The school system struggles to support a fast paced and ever changing digital landscape so kids aren’t coming out of education with the right skills to set them up for success in the world of work. There are many organisations and initiatives helping here e.g. BIMA’s Digital Day.

Often graduates aren’t fully aware of the breadth of opportunity there is – even if they are aware of a discipline such as UX, they may not be aware of the different types of opportunities within this – a UI designer is very different to a UX researcher. So often people end up in the wrong roles for them, or they move into a different sector.

A Strong Need to Appreciate Transferable Skills

At the other end of the career spectrum businesses could do so much more to support ‘returners’ to work. And provide opportunities for mature and experienced people to retrain, recognising the transferable skills and life experience that they bring. CodeClan are doing some great work in this space.

Finally, Scotland needs to continue to be ambitious and encourage businesses stay and grow up north so that we have plenty of rewarding roles at all levels for our smart and talented people.

I’d love to know your thoughts – have you experienced this as an issue? What do you think we could do to overcome it in Scotland?

Jessica Mullen

Jessica Mullen

Founder & MD at CreateFuture

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