Tech 100: ‘As IT leaders we need to be open to considering creative routes for IT recruitment’

Written by Staff Reporter on 2 November 2016 in Comment

Chief information officer at the University of St Andrews, Steve Watt, on addressing the skills challenge

Steve Watt – credit: The University of St Andrews

At a recent event I attended I was startled, but not surprised, to find out that each year the Scottish IT industry requires 11,000 new entrants just to stand still.

With the massive growth in the use of ICT across all sectors we really need to address the skills shortage quickly. The impact of Brexit will also have a potential impact here, especially as we are reading comments on a daily basis from many regarding the resultant brain drain.

Roles in IT have changed significantly especially as we make greater use of services hosted in our own private clouds or in public cloud environments. Traditionally, staffwith technical skills were key to supporting in house systems and managing hardware.


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The increasing prevalence of cloud computing has resulted in a variety of new skills being required in our IT departments, with almost all roles now requiring ‘softer skills’ such as contract and relationship management.  Providing great customer service is seen as a given – and a far cry from some IT departments of old.

Getting young people interested in a career in IT at an earlier age is critical in addressing the skills shortage and creating the next generation of IT professionals.

Significant efforts continue to be made in highlighting how a role in IT can be rewarding and diverse with some recent excellent examples such as CodeClan and the Digital World Roadshows.

Universities continue to produce some extremely talented individuals into the jobs marketplace. However, with graduate salary expectations continuing to increase – and budgets decreasing – other methods are needed to recruit to the important frontline technician and analyst roles where many an IT career commences – as it did for me!

As IT leaders we need to be open to considering creative routes for IT recruitment. At the University of St Andrews, we’ve had significant success by recruiting IT apprentices as a way of developing tomorrow’s experts.

Work experience placements, internships and school visits should be considered too to inspire young people into a career in IT. Embracing diversity is key.

Steve Watt is chief information officer at the University of St Andrews. For more information about the higher education institution’s work check out his recent interview with Holyrood or this short film about their IT Apprenticeship Scheme.

Steve Watt is chief information officer at the University of St Andrews



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