How to get a job in digital: Glasgow and Dundee in the economic spotlight
Scotland's deputy first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, announced last year that up to 15,000 new digital jobs would be created in Scotland as a result of investment into developing the country's digital infrastructure, reflecting the UK-wide faith in the sector's contribution to future economic development and employment.
Digital buzz: Glasgow's Pacific Quay is home to the BBC and STV
The creative industries provide jobs for around 100,000 people in Scotland, contribute around £3.2bn annually to the economy and, as the UK goes digital, those figures are expected to rise. Particularly well-known for its games sector, the city of Dundee is set to host a new £1.7m development called District 10, which will support SMEs and provide nearly 40 jobs. It's expected to generate up to £10m over 10 years for the local economy and should be completed by the summer. In Glasgow, the Digital and Creative Clyde Launchpad competition - a joint partnership between the Technology Strategy Board and Creative Clyde - was recently launched, offering investment of up to £900,000 for the city's digital and creative companies.
In October last year, Sturgeon announced nearly a quarter of a billion pounds would be invested into improving broadband services, creating almost 1,000 jobs in the first five years and an estimated 14,000 jobs in the wider economy over a 15-year period.
Around 2,300 people are employed at Glasgow's Pacific Quay digital broadcast hub, which hosts the BBC, STV, Capital FM, Shed Media Scotland and Film City Glasgow among others. Thousands more are employed around the city, which is home to many digital and creative agencies, and head of marketing at web design and SEO agency 360innovate, Iain Bartholomew, says those looking for jobs in the Glasgow digital industry must really want to be there.
"I recently had to draft a job spec for summer interns here at 360innovate and the thing that I felt mattered most was a genuine interest in the subject," he said. "Don't come in thinking that social media or search is some kind of easy option that anyone can just pick up. Show an interest; it's a fast-moving industry, but it's an open one so read the blogs and watch the videos that the guys at the top of their game are putting out. Show me that you really want to do this specific thing."
It was recently announced that Glasgow is to be allocated £24m from the Technology Strategy Board - beating off 30 other UK cities - to become a 'future cities demonstrator', showing how technology can be used to integrate health, transport, energy and public safety services, and indicating that a broad range of digital and tech skills will be key in the future jobs market. However, Bartholomew believes Glasgow still has some basic joining of the dots to do in his digital niche.
"From my perspective, the tech industry in Glasgow seems a little more fragmented than in other cities I read about," he continued. "There are a lot of companies offering a range of services but there isn't the same kind of 'hub' that you see in cities like Newcastle, for example.
"I perceive a lack of awareness at many local businesses of the value that working with online marketing and digital agencies can bring. I don't know if that's because they've had trouble with the type of snake-oil selling SEO companies that pollute the market, or because the rest of us aren't doing a good enough job of communicating our skills and the benefits they bring."
The digital media sector alone in Scotland provides more than 40,000 jobs, making up around 65 per cent of the nation's creative industries. Amazon, one of the world's biggest digital companies, keeps around 1,650 people in employment in Scotland and the country can boast some big contributions to the digital world, with the well established gaming city of Dundee having been the birthplace of Grand Theft Auto, Lemmings and Minecraft for the Xbox 360.
As digital gains further prominence, agencies are on the lookout for specialist skills: "I think there are a lot more people professing to be competent or expert than can actually justify the tag," said Bartholomew. "Genuinely talented people in their fields should have no difficulty finding work. For example, talented programmers are always going to be in demand, and as search and online marketing skews towards functions that are traditionally provided by the PR industry there will be opportunities for people with those skills to find a place at forward-thinking agencies."
The Scottish government has big ambitions for the digital future. An infrastructure action plan was launched in January last year to support its direction and health services have already started becoming digitised - the 'single point of access' to digital central government services in Scotland, for example. The industry will span a range of areas as the economy is geared further towards digital, while the private sector continues to flourish in its own right. Today's digital jobseekers may be tomorrow's digital experts in an industry which will be in a position to reward its skilled workers.
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