Media Release: Youth Employment Minister to attend Scotland Women in Technology career progression event

* Angela Constance, Youth Employment Minister to attend Scotland Women in Technology event marking International Women’s Day

* Technology sector is a key driver of Scotland’s economy but number of women in the sector has plummeted by more than half in recent years

* Scotland Women in Technology’s aim is to both attract and retain people in the sector

* Event focussing on career progression in the technology sector to help encourage more women to remain in the sector

* Cisco is hosting the event and is the Official Network Infrastructure Supporter for the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games

THE Scotland Women in Technology (SWiT) group welcomes Angela Constance, Youth Employment Minister, to a conference attended by 80 people tomorrow (Tues 11 March), focusing on career progression.

SWiT was founded by Silka Patel, of Cisco, to attract and retain more women and young people in the sector which is currently lacking representation of these groups.

Delegates at the event will hear key insights on how to develop their careers most effectively from industry experts including Jean Kerr, head of Talent Management of Cisco for Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Russia and Liz McGettigan, former director of the award-winning City of Edinburgh Library and Information Services and now director of Digital Library Experiences for SOLUS UK.

The event is taking place at Cisco, Eurocentral.

Begins a spokesperson: “The technology sector represents a great economic opportunity for Scotland to compete more effectively on the global stage, yet women are vastly under-represented in this area.

“According to e-skills UK, the technology sector contributes £3 billion to the Scottish economy but has the potential to more than double this to £6.7 billion over the next five to seven years. This equates to an additional 37,000 jobs over this period.

“In order to maximise this opportunity, it is vital to have the appropriate number and quality of people in the sector.

“Despite the importance of technology to economic growth and the lucrative, flexible and varied career opportunities, the sector struggles to attract and retain talent.

“The sector is often deemed to be ‘only for geeks’ and is often overlooked as a potential career choice, particularly amongst young people and women.

“e-skills UK also reports that between 2001 and 2011, the proportion of 16-29 year olds in the sector has dropped from 29 per cent to 14 per cent.

“Over the same period, those over 40 years old in the sector has increased from 29 per cent to 50 per cent. In 2001, women represented 30 per cent of the sector. In 2011, this had dwindled to just 17 per cent.”

Launched in September 2010, SWiT is made up of influential technology industry professionals in Scotland representing Dell, Cisco, Hewlett-Packard (HP), IBM, Oracle, Perceptive Communicators, Scottish Enterprise and Skills Development Scotland.

SWiT’s goal is to attract, inspire, empower and retain women and young people in the technology industry by developing a network to help grow their contribution in the IT business.

The group is the brainchild of Silka Patel, international marketing manager at Cisco.

Silka was involved with a similar group in London and could see the benefits of encouraging women into technology in Scotland too.

Silka Patel commented: “This sector is a brilliant place for women to work and progress, yet we are very much in the minority.

“Through our activities we hope to retain female talent in the sector as well as encouraging more women and young people into this exciting area, to develop their skills and so maximise the contribution to our economy.

“The tech sector offers fantastic roles for women and young people, but at the moment these opportunities are mainly overlooked.

“We know that there is a stereotypical image of the tech geek but this is very one-dimensional and totally underestimates the exciting opportunities that are within the reach of many young people and women in Scotland.

“I don’t have a technology background, but have managed to carve out a successful career with a blue chip organisation which is really stimulating and varied. Thanks to the technology available, the working patterns are very flexible, so this gives me a good balance between work and home life as mum to my young son.”

Angela Constance, Minister for Youth Employment, will launch the event with a keynote address.

Ms. Constance commented: “The Scottish Government is doing everything in its powers to support more young men and young women into employment and to tackle occupational segregation.

“ICT and digital technologies careers offer fabulous opportunities across Scotland’s economy and it’s crucial that we work together to increase the number of women in the workforce.

“The Scottish Women in Technology group can help us to promote the ICT and digital technologies careers to young women as one with a wide range of flexible work opportunities where women can progress to the top of the career ladder.

“The coming years will see huge growth in jobs in digital technology across Scotland and I know that employers are keen to recruit many more young women into their workforces.

“I hope that this week’s focus on ICT and digital technologies as part of our ongoing campaign – Make Young People Your Business – can encourage more young women to consider this as a worthwhile career option.”

Rachel Calder, director of First Potential, will host an interactive session on mind and body intelligence, the impact of one on the other and will share tips on how to develop a winning mindset.

eSkills are predicting 9,600 new entrants will be required in the Scottish IT Sector each year for the next three years in order to meet the growing demand for skills in software programming and big data analytics alone.


Notes to Editors

Youth unemployment in Scotland

  • The rate of youth unemployment in Scotland stands at 77,000 16–24 year-olds out of work  (Source: Labour Market Briefing Aug 2013)
  • The unused digital skills within the community of unemployed young people in Scotland is estimated by business to be worth £587 million (Source: O2 research – 37 per cent of young people with digital skills x no. of unemployed young people x average salary that business are willing to pay for these people of £17,956)

 Skills shortage

  • School pupils and students appear to be ignoring this important sector. The number of school pupils taking computer related courses in Scotland has dropped by 17 per cent since 2006 (Source: eSkills Technology Skills Insight Scotland 2012)
  • Although the number of people applying to IT related courses in Higher Education in Scotland increased by 19 per cent over the past two years, for the period 2002-2010 numbers fell by 29 per cent (Source: eSkills Technology Skills Insight Scotland 2012)
  • As a result, the proportion of IT and Telecoms professionals under 30 years old has dropped from 29 per cent in 2001 to 14 per cent in 2010. Now half of IT Telecoms professionals in Scotland are over 40 years old (Source: eSkills Technology Skills Insight Scotland 2012)
  • Ironically, many young people have an abundance of digital skills at their fingertips – 68 per cent can design a webpage, 20 per cent can develop an app and 22 per cent are confident at coding (Source: O2 research)

Women in technology

  • Only 13 per cent of acceptances to IT related Higher Education courses in Scotland are female and as a result, women are severely under-represented in the IT profession, with only 17 per cent of women employed as IT and Telecoms professionals (Source: eSkills Technology Skills Insight Scotland 2012)

 Job opportunities in the technology sector

  • Employment in the IT industry is predicted to grow at nearly four times faster than the Scotland average, so is likely to continue to be an attractive employment option for the foreseeable future (Source: eSkills UK)
  • The types of roles that are currently in demand include software engineers, web developers, project managers, network engineers and those with skills in marketing and digital marketing, sales and business development and product management
  • Business in Scotland expect a fifth of their growth over the next three years to come through digital channels (Source: O2 research)
  • Salaries for IT and Telecom Professionals aged between 16-29 years old in Scotland are a third more than the national average (Source: eSkills Technology Counts)

 Background to the Technology Sector

  • The IT & Telecoms industry GVA contribution amounts to five per cent (£4 billion) of Scotland’s economy
  • Scotland could add £12 billion to its economy, create 20,000 additional high value jobs and create 1,000 new businesses over the next five years by enabling digital technologies (Source: Enabling a Digital Scotland Report, ScotlandIS)
  • The technology sector creates thousands of new jobs each year and its growth boosts the Scottish economy by more than £30 million annually (Source: Annual Scottish Technology Survey – ScotlandIS and 9-20 recruitment)
  • The sector employs over 100,000 ICT professionals in Scotland and is a key driver of future economic growth

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Contact: Julie Moulsdale
Phone: 07734932578