Colleges not meeting IT demand say Tories
Conservatives reveal figures showing drop in students studying computing in further education
There has been a dramatic fall in the number of students taking IT courses in Scotland, according to figures obtained by the Scottish Conservatives.
Scottish Funding Council figures show the number of students taking IT courses at Scotland’s colleges has fallen from 45,900 in 2009/10 to 21,800 in 2014.
Scottish Conservative education and lifelong learning spokeswoman Mary Scanlon said the SNP should be promoting courses which fill Scotland’s skills gaps, and accused Education Secretary Angela Constance of not taking the matter seriously.
“The cabinet secretary refers to these courses as ‘how to work a mouse’ however IT is one of the most sought after skills needed for both small and large businesses to get ahead. Scotland needs to be keeping up with the rest of the world when it comes to IT and digital skills. We should be world-leading not lagging behind,” she said.
Shona Struthers, chief executive of Colleges Scotland, said colleges were adapting courses to meet the needs of employers.
“We recognise that IT is a very important sector to the Scottish economy and, following the publication of the conclusions of the Commission on Developing Scotland’s Young Workforce, colleges are engaging with local schools, communities and employers to make sure that we are providing the necessary skills for the future,” she said.
Information technology is one of the most prominent of Scotland’s skills gaps, with industry body Scotland IS predicting the digital technology industry will require 11,000 new entrants every year.
Writing for Holyrood recently, Scotland IS chief executive Polly Purvis said: “This is no longer just a question of skills; it is an economic development issue which will determine Scotland’s success or otherwise in the years to come.”
But the guidance warned that there is a risk to child wellbeing when screen time displaces positive activities.
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