Financial services giant JP Morgan has teamed up with Digital Xtra Fund to help tackle the technology skills gap in Scotland.
The company has signed up as a Gigabyte Partner with the charity, which funds extracurricular digital activities such as coding and robotics clubs for youngsters across Scotland.
There are more than 13,000 tech job opportunities available in Scotland every year, according to research from by Skills Development Scotland in 2019 – marking an increase of 16% on previous forecasts.
However, with only around 6,600 people entering the Scottish job market each year with relevant tech skills, there is not enough talent to fill this many positions. This difference in supply and demand means that some organisations face inhibited growth while others may need to search for more talent abroad.
Robbie Robinson, global co-lead of Tech for Social Good Youth Programmes at JP Morgan, said: “There is currently a huge IT skills gap in Scotland, and the only long-term solution is to encourage more youngsters to become interested in computer science and STEM subjects in school so they will consider a career in technology when they leave.
“This is the key reason why JP Morgan has become a Gigabyte partner with Digital Xtra Fund. All businesses need to invest in tomorrow’s workforce now otherwise the skills gap is going to persist. Young people need to be inspired by technology and made more aware of the fantastic career opportunities that are available.”
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If Scotland’s economy is to thrive, the nation needs people with the right skills and that starts from a young age, Robinson added.
“Digital Xtra Fund has done a great job of reaching out to girls and other under-represented groups in tech and we want to see this continue,” he said.
JP Morgan runs Tech for Social Good, which fosters innovation and provides opportunities for JP Morgan employees to use their technology expertise to give back to the communities in which they live and work.
Kraig Brown, partnerships and development manager at Digital Xtra Fund, said: “JP Morgan’s support is vital in enabling us to make a real impact on the lives of young people around Scotland. Our partners not only provide financial support but their staff can also volunteer to speak with young people about careers in tech, putting a personal face to the variety of roles these skills can lead to.
“Bringing together industry and young people is a key element to what Digital Xtra Fund is trying to achieve.”
Negative stereotypes about careers in tech are still very much alive when speaking with young people and their families, according to Brown. He believes that connecting young people and industry professionals, especially those who only recently started their careers, can make a significant impact on young peoples’ perceptions about what is a career in tech as well as the variety of opportunities available in Scotland.
He said: “It’s especially important we have relevant role models and mentors to inspire more women and minorities to pursue roles in tech too.
“JP Morgan supports many amazing philanthropic initiatives around the globe, so to have their support for our work here in Scotland is hugely appreciated and also speaks to the importance of what we are trying to achieve. These skills are vital for both young people and to the future Scottish economy. Only by working together can we make a positive difference.”
Digital Xtra Fund is currently accepting applications for the next round of grant awards. Grants of up to £5,000 will be awarded to organisations delivering extracurricular activities that teach young people skills such as coding, data analysis, cybersecurity, and computational thinking helping inspire Scotland’s next generation of technologists, developers and digital leaders.