£6.6m funding boost could attract 11,000 jobs in the digital technologies sector

A £6.6 million funding boost for Scotland's digital technologies sector has been announced to help attract up to 11,000 jobs.

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The money will support the development of digital skills and deliver a new skills investment plan which includes elements such as encouraging more women into the sector and delivering work placements.

First Minister Alex Salmond announced the funding and plan on a visit to officially open the new Edinburgh premises of CodeBase, Scotland's largest digital incubator company.

The announcement comes during Make Young People Your Business Week, which focuses on promoting the digital technologies sector as a career option to a younger audience while celebrating Scottish successes in the industry.

Scotland's information and communications technology (ICT) and digital technology sectors deliver an estimated £3 billion to the Scottish economy and currently employ 73,000 digital technology professionals, the Scottish Government said.

Mr Salmond said: "Scotland is at the forefront of digital technology, with skills and expertise that is internationally recognised as among the best in the sector.

"ICT and digital technologies are a key driver of economic growth. However, despite growing demand for skills the number of young people within the sector has not kept pace.

"That is why today's funding announcement along with the publication of the skills development plan is so important, particularly during Make Young People Your Business Week.

"The Scottish Government believes there is even further untapped potential in our digital sector and we want Scotland to become a world-leading digital nation by 2020."

Elements in the ICT and digital technologies skills investment plan include aligning education systems to employers' needs, supporting employer engagement with schools and delivering 750 work placements for further education and higher education students by 2016.

It also aims to respond to the immediate skills shortage and develop skills to support the demand of up to 11,000 jobs per year.

John McClelland, chair of Skills Development Scotland, said: "There is an unprecedented demand for ICT and digital technology professionals, and across Europe the number of jobs is growing by more than 100,000 each year.

"We need to make sure that Scotland is well-placed to be able to take advantage of this growth.

"The skills investment plan sets out a vision for Scotland to be viewed as a world-class location for ambitious ICT and digital technology businesses to be able to develop, invest and grow by having access to a talent pool with exceptional skills.

"To achieve this ambition we have worked with the industry to identify the key actions which need to be undertaken to support the growth ambition of the ICT and digital technologies sector."

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