Digital Skills for Graduates

With over 84,000 people expected to be employed in digital or ICT jobs by 2020, the digital sector in Scotland is currently experiencing unprecedented growth. Estimates suggest that there could be as many as 11,000 job opportunities in Scotland each year in the digital sector, and this is set to increase by 2,000 every year as growth accelerates.

However, there is a significant shortage of skilled graduates to fill these roles. Current graduates from universities and colleges often lack the digital skills necessary to excel in this growing industry, and the digital economy more widely.

In order to become a world class digital economy by 2020, policy-makers, further and higher education institutions, employers, and students, need to work together to find practical solutions for improving digital skills.


The aim of Holyrood's Digital Skills for Graduates event is to bring together policy-makers, universities, colleges and businesses, in order to examine what is currently being done to address the digital skills gap, and what opportunities there are for collaborative work in the future.

Delegates will learn of some innovative ways universities and colleges can improve the teaching of digital skills, and ways in which businesses and education institutions can collaborate that work in both their interests.

Key learning outcomes:

  • An in-depth understanding of what the current digital skills gap is, and potential strategies for improving graduate skills.
  • Best practice case studies exploring what programmes are currently in place.
  • Opportunities for educators, policy-makers and industry experts to discuss together practical options for collaboration.


09:30      Registration and refreshments

10:00      Introduction from Chair

  • Melissa Highton, Director of Learning, Teaching and Web Services, University of Edinburgh

Session 1: Improving digital skills for all graduates

How can colleges and universities improve basic digital skills for all students? What are some innovative ways to incorporate digital skills tuition into conventional degree programmes?

10:05      Why digital skills?

10:45      The Digital Skills Network and Scotland's colleges

  • Kenji Lamb, Digital Advisor, College Development Network

11:05      Q&A

11:20      Refreshments

Session 2: Targeting digital skills and bridging the gap to employment

This session will explore some good practice in particular colleges and universities. How are specialised degree programmes working to meet the industry demands? How can integrated work placements benefit students and employers? How can we bridge the gap to employment?

11:40      Innovative practices in colleges and universities: a case study of the MSc Digital Marketing, Robert Gordon University

  • Jack Keenan, Senior Lecturer in Communications, Marketing and Media, Robert Gordon University
  • Fiona Smith, Trainee Digital Planner/Buyer, MediaCom Edinburgh

12:00      The value of integrated work placements to both learners and employers​

  • Jan Thomson, Head of Edinburgh College Business Development, Edinburgh College

12:20      e-Placement Scotland: Challenging the digital skills gap by bridging work and study

  • Dr Colin Smith, Senior Lecturer, Edinburgh Napier University

12:40      Q&A

12:55      Lunch and networking

Session 3: Beyond university: the role of industry and extra-curricular learning

What are employers looking for in recent graduates? What can industry and other organisations do to encourage students to develop digital skills? Where are there opportunities for collaborative partnerships between education institutions and industry?

13:45      Partnerships to link education and industry: the DigitasLBi mentorship programme

  • Maria Polyakova, Digital Search Team Leader, DigitasLBi
  • Dr Simone Kurtzke, Lecturer in Digital Media and Marketing, Robert Gordon University

​14:05      The SME perspective: what kind of skills and attributes are SMEs looking for in recent graduates?

  • Mike McGrail, Marketing Director, Administrate

14:20      Social enterprises, gender diversity, and the tech sector: Code First: Girls

  • Sjoukje Ijlstra​, Coding Instructor, Code First: Girls
  • Mary Chan, Intern, Code First: Girls

14:35      Thinking and behaving digitally

  • Duncan Chapple​, Faculty Member, University of Edinburgh Business School

14:50      Q&A

15:05      Refreshments

Session 4: Panel session

This is an opportunity for education experts, industry professionals and other stakeholders to discuss their priorities more freely, and work together to consider what practical steps their organisations can take. Discussion topics may include: the practical and policy barriers facing universities and colleges; how to strike a balance between digital skills tuition within and outwith the curriculum; strategies for closing the gender gap for graduates in the digital sector; and innovative ways to encourage partnership working between education and industry.

15:25      Panel discussion

  • Sally Smith, Dean of School of Computing, Edinburgh Napier University, and Chair of the Council of Professors and Heads of Computing
  • Tim Barlow, Managing Director, Attacat
  • Dr Simone Kurtzke, Lecturer in Digital Media and Marketing, Robert Gordon University

16:10      Summary and conclusions by the Chair

16:15      Close of conference

*Agenda is subject to change without prior notice

Venue and costs

Delegate rates:

  • Discounted rate: £149 + VAT (third sector organisations with an annual income of less than £1m)
  • Reduced rate: £199 + VAT (all public sector organisations and third sector organisations with an annual income over £1m)
  • Full rate: £299 + VAT (Commercial organisations, e.g. plc, Ltd, LLP)

For more information, please contact Alexander Burton, by email: or phone: 0131 285 1695.

2 June 2016
The Mews (NASUWT)
35 Young Street North Lane
United Kingdom



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