I attended an event on Friday, organised by Iain Shand of Glasgow Clyde College, about the current skills gap and how best to prepare students to fill the gap. The event was held at the Microsoft offices in Edinbugh, and was well attended with 18 colleges represented.
The keynote was given by Polly Purvis, of Scotland IS, who set the tone for the day. Polly pointed out that 45,000 new IT jobs will be created in Scotland in the next five years; that the rate of growth of IT jobs will be fives times the average job rate; and that only 18.5% of the current IT workforce is made up of women. She also highlighted the areas of acute shortage, which include: programming, data security, IT project management, and IT sales/marketing. Polly also commented on the "digital economy" and the need for a digitally skilled workforce - in all sectors.
Many of the other speakers, myself included, echoed these views. For my own part, I explained what SQA was trying to do to fill the skills gap, with initiatives like DIVA, regular updates to qualifications (including the introduction of new ones such as HND Computer Science), and engagement with employers through the Sector Panel.
I returned to Polly's theme of the importance of digital skills and took the opportunity to announce a new suite of awards entitled Digital Passport. These new NPA awards (at SCQF Levels 4, 5 and 6) are designed to address digital literacy skills. I described it as the "most advanced digital literacy qualification in the UK", which, I believe, it will be when it is launched early next year alongside the refreshed PC Passport qualifications. More information will follow.
Contact me if you want to know more about DIVA, contact Caroline if you want to know more about the updated HN awards, or contact Hilary for more information about Digital Passport.