The SNP Government has launched a new £36m Digital Growth Fund to help companies with digital expansion. The fund, which will be made available over the next three years, will provide loans to companies looking to develop staff skills in areas such as cyber security, data analytics and software engineering.
Announcing the fund, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said it is part of the SNP Government's wider drive to improve economic productivity.
Figures show that Scottish productivity has grown almost 10% since 2007 compared to 0.1% growth in the rest of the UK.
The First Minister said a lack of digital skills has been identified as a “critical gap” holding back even greater productivity and company profitability. She said:
“Recent studies estimate that the economy needs 12,800 new workers with digital skills each year. Despite this, our last digital economy survey found that only around a quarter of businesses were doing anything to develop current employees’ digital technology skills. We need to change that. Scotland cannot afford to ignore this prize. That’s why we will now boost our support for digital skills.”
“We will develop a new £36m, Digital Growth Fund which will support the training of up to 6,000 people in each of the next three years to meet the upfront business costs of digital skills training in key areas like software development, web design and digital marketing. It will also allow firms to use government funding to pay for the training their staff need, repaying the funding in later years.
“We will work with business to lift the upfront burden of upskilling Scotland’s workforce from the balance sheets of business, giving firms the freedom to invest in their staff and in their future prosperity now.”