Read contributions from partners given at a recent workshop with SDS Board members:

Upskilling

I think we need to double down on retraining, cross-training, cross-skilling, upskilling, returners [to work]. But it’s not enough because if we just train them and companies don’t understand what that means, and if companies don’t understand how to really attract, select, and most importantly, onboard these new people, we’re going to miss such an opportunity.

Debbie Forster, CEO @ Tech Talent Charter

It is critically important for Scotland’s workforce to have data skills to be able to thrive in our future economy and future society.

Gillian Docherty, CEO, The Data Lab

[Due to the changing nature of industry] We move from a macro qualification (which we can still use as a base), and blend in, in a much stronger way, a microcredentialised environment where people can learn things in short bursts and have those accredited in some way. What we also need to bring with that is the idea of some type of learning passport. In this country and many others, we only really value [qualifications like] Highers, Advanced Highers, and [university] degrees. We don’t tend to put a value on online learning, not to the same level. Until we do that, we’re reducing the incentive for people to continually upskill, even if that option is available to them.

Mark Logan, Professor in Practice (School of Computing Science), University of Glasgow and former Chief Operating Officer at Skyscanner

Innovation

The last 18 months has put a spotlight on organisations to innovate in new ways they’ve never had to do before and many [organisations] are using data, data science, artificial intelligence, and other capabilities to help them do that. And organisations have had to innovate more quickly than they’ve ever had to do before.

Gillian Docherty CEO, The Data Lab

What we [TTC] will be doing in the coming year is working with companies to identify what TTC can do with people who come from alternative routes to make sure these people land into jobs in a scalable, sustainable, inclusive way. [TTC will trial ways of working with big corps and then share learning with SMEs and start-ups]

Debbie Forster, CEO @ Tech Talent Charter

If we start transforming our economy then we’re going to need a lot of different skills in a lot of different areas such as housing, care, and education, in addition to new skills in the environmental sectors. We not only need the skills for the different kinds of jobs that will come up as part of the transformation, but we also need the skills for people to make this transformation happen – we need people who know how to run businesses differently so that they prioritise environmental and social outcomes, we need accountants who know how to assess these kind of businesses, civil servants who can design new kinds of policy instruments, community leaders who can implement and design new forms of democratic engagement and so on, the list is endless.

Lukas Hardt, Policy & Engagement Lead, Wellbeing Economy Alliance Scotland

Lifelong learning

Learning how to learn on the job in a practical way and learning how to upskill in this way, it is not just equipping you for the next job, it is equipping you for jobs for the rest of your life. The work of the future will be changing beyond recognition at regular intervals. The people who are going to thrive [in the future] are those people who can learn how to learn as they go and as they work and lean into the challenges.

Debbie Forster, CEO @ Tech Talent Charter

Change is accelerating, and our people have to be regularly updating their skills to continue to be relevant to the opportunities that open up.

Mark Logan, Professor in Practice (School of Computing Science), University of Glasgow and former Chief Operating Officer at Skyscanner

Green and good

If Scotland wants to thrive and tackle our environmental challenges, we need to be using our data better and we can only do that if we have the right skills in place.

Gillian Docherty CEO, The Data Lab

Personalisation/customer centricity  

If Scotland wants to thrive and tackle our environmental challenges, we need to be using our data better and we can only do that if we have the right skills in place.

Gillian Docherty CEO, The Data Lab

Equality/Inequality

It’s vitally important that our society and our people here in Scotland have the opportunity to learn and gain skills in and around digital and data and that will help us thrive as an economy and a society for the future.

Gillian Docherty CEO, The Data Lab

A wellbeing economy is an economy that delivers social justice on a healthy planet, at the moment the model we have is not delivering on that. We’re destroying the planet and also leaving a lot of people behind in the process. This is not surprising as our current economic model is not designed to deliver on the things we really need, instead it’s very much designed to prioritise economic growth and profits over everything else. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted a lot of fault lines in our economic system. For example, workers who have the most immediate impacts on our wellbeing (carers, cleaners, retail workers) are often the ones who are the worst-paid and have the worst working conditions.

Lukas Hardt, Policy & Engagement Lead, Wellbeing Economy Alliance Scotland

Entrepreneurship

In Scotland we often look back on the glorious period in our industrial history when we were building a fifth of the world’s ships, that essentially was the period’s equivalent of today’s Silicon Valley. There were a lot of start-ups that grew to scale, and it was an environment of huge entrepreneurialism. In those days the currency of high tech wasn’t software, it was steel and iron. Scotland has to stop lamenting that past, it has to rediscover that entrepreneurial flair because every single job that exists in Scotland today was because somebody started something. It’s vitally important for growth that we embrace entrepreneurialism and instil it in our people. The digital aspect of that is equally important because often in any period of history the most high-tech area of the economy has the most growth potential, and right now that’s digital.

Mark Logan, Professor in Practice (School of Computing Science), University of Glasgow and former Chief Operating Officer at Skyscanner