A new digital growth fund was announced by the First Minister on Saturday, March 18 2017.
Supported by £36 million over the next three years, the fund will provide loans to companies who wish to develop the digital skills of their staff in areas such as cyber security, data analytics and software engineering as part of the Scottish Government’s drive to improve economic productivity.
The First Minister will highlight figures showing Scotland’s productivity has grown by almost ten percent since 2007 while the rest of the UK’s has only grown by one-tenth of one percent. She will say that this is a strong record but that there is more we can and must do.
The lack of digital skills has been identified as a critical gap that holds back productivity and company profitability, with an estimated additional 12,800 digital skills roles needed each year. In order to help support business in filling this skills gap the Digital Growth Fund will provide loans to support up to an estimated 6,000 people to be trained in each of the next three years.
The First Minister said:
“Recent studies estimate that the economy needs 12,800 new workers with digital skills each year. Despite this, our last digital economy survey found that only around a quarter of businesses were doing anything to develop current employees’ digital technology skills.
We need to change that. Scotland cannot afford to ignore this prize. That’s why we will now boost our support for digital skills.
We will develop a new £36 million, three-year support fund to meet the upfront business costs of digital skills training. This will see up to 6,000 people per year able to access the training they need in key areas like software development, web design and digital marketing. It will also allow firms to use government funding to pay for the training their staff need, repaying the funding in later years.
We will work with business to lift the upfront burden of upskilling Scotland’s workforce from the balance sheets of business, giving firms the freedom to invest in their staff and in their future.”