On a very windy day, we had the pleasure of going along to the Digit Expo for a day of networking and talks on the future of technology, at Scotlands biggest IT & Digital event, hosted by digit. We gathered in the EICC with some of the top tech minds, and some friends of Head Resourcing too, such as Forrit, ScotlandIS, and Codeclan, amongst many others. There was a diverse mix of not only talks, but attendees too, with students and founders brought together for what was an inspiring and informative day.
If you have been along to a Digit event, you’ll know just how great an opportunity it is to meet up with friends in the industry and mingle with new faces too. And if you haven’t yet been along to one, you are missing out! We chatted with the team at Cyber Scotland and ScotlandIS around the fact that the tech industry in Scotland is such a small world, it’s so important that the industry comes together, shares ideas and supports one another, with events like these being a great example of the industry working together.
From learning about SSE’s NetZero plans and the importance of tech within the energy transition, to discussing the hot topics of the skills gap and female representation, there was lots for the team to chew over on the train journey home!
Now on to a bit more on a few of our favourite talks…
Discussing all things energy with SSE
As Angus Murray opened, he jokingly mentioned he hoped the talk would run smoothly, without any ‘interruptions’, and although the room chuckled, it was a reminder of the tension around this topic now, and for good reason too! Angus was here to inform us on how SSE are using technology to make the transition to NetZero by 2030 not only quicker, but more effective too. On a positive noted, he started by showing a snapshot of Scotland energy usage that morning and we could see that 41% of energy was being fuelled by turbines. Well, we did say it was a windy day! And coming soon is SSEs largest windfarm to date, DoggerBank will house a whopping 300 turbines off the coast of Scotland.
Angus talked about how the move to Agile helped them move faster on projects moving towards NetZero, and they’re also looking into more innovative ways to help customers too, such as researching AI predictive analysis to create ‘Smart/Agile’ tariffs., For example, it might offer you a cheaper tariff on a windy day like this one, as more energy will be provided from a renewable source. A big aspect of helping with the transition will be changing consumers habits to better match energy available, so when energy is green it will be cheaper, and more expensive when not. Consumers are becoming more empowered to make better energy choices, Angus himself has a car that allows him to sell energy back into the grid!
Increasing female representation in technology roles
As a recruitment consultancy with lots of strong woman on the team, increasing female representation in tech is a topic close to all of our teams’ heart. We attended an interesting panel discussion that looked at what we can do about it, and how those in the industry can support. There was a lot of focus around the importance of encouraging women into tech and computing from a younger age. It was discussed that girls are generally as interested in boys in STEM subjects in primary school, but this dips in high school as obvious peer pressures come in to play. I remember myself being one of four girls in my Standard Grade physics class, and I personally found it overwhelming being in a difficult class with loud and confident boys.
The conversation kept coming back to education, and how important those younger years are for inspiring women to get into tech subjects, currently only 20% of those studying tech degrees are woman, so we clearly have a long way to go.
Closing the skills gap in Scotland…
As IT, digital & business change recruiters, we see the starkness of the hiring challenges in the UK every day and the skills gap is something our clients are increasingly concerned about when we talk with them. This talk including Peter Proud from Forrit amongst others was insightful. Exactly how do we encourage more people into the world of tech? The answer is clearly not simply!
One major issue seems to be the misconception of what working in tech actually is, and again it all came back to education. Not all schools aren’t equipped to inform pupils of what the real-world options are Even the use of ‘STEM’ doesn’t encompass Computing. Kids simply don’t know their options, and therefore don’t know what they can aspire to. Or they think that unless they are a maths genius, there are no options into the world of tech. With how complex and fast-paced the tech world is, it’s a massive challenge for schools to even stay on top of what opportunities look like.
Organisations can do more in the way of taking on apprentices, that perhaps didn’t go down the traditional route into tech roles. And let’s not just focus on the young workforce, businesses could be doing more to help upskill and retrain members of staff into more technical roles too. What was clear was that there wasn’t one key answer here, but rather real systemic change would be needed across education, employer attitudes and recruitment and skills planning professionals.
Into the Metaverse…
Rounding off the day was a talk on the Metaverse from Accenture’s Metaverse Strategy Lead, Nick Rose, author of ‘Understanding the Metaverse’. It seems Nick’s job has been made somewhat harder by a certain social media company re-naming themselves and adding some confusion to the mix around what the ‘Metaverse’ really is… Spoiler alert, it turns out we aren’t all just plugging ourselves in to Mark Zuckerburgs’ matrix! The real-life application of the Metaverse and virtual worlds was fascinating. He explained that the best application will be for learning. We retain 80% of the things we physically do, ‘virtual worlds’ are ideal for implementing hands-on training! A great example is one of their clients, a large turbine manufacturer who upgraded the turbines every 2 years. As a result, every 2 years they were having to retrain 2,500 engineers on the new model. Even worse, they could only train 4 at a time! Now with a purpose built ‘metaverse’, they can train all the engineers in one day, without having to create a costly physical replica.
After spending years on Zoom on calls and quizzes I think many of us are terrified at the thought of virtual worlds replacing ‘real life’ interaction however it was great to hear this technology is really helping the world, rather than just pulling us further apart from one another. It will be interesting to see how this new use of technology drives changes in skills demand and what clients are working on over the years to come for sure.
A thanks to Digit!
Those of us that attended from Head Resourcing really enjoyed the day. As recruiters we can get bogged down in the nitty gritty of hiring and the associated challenges but taking a holistic look at the innovation going on in the Scottish IT industry was inspiring and we all came away with lots to think about. Digit do a truly great job of bringing together great minds and interesting topics and we can’t wait to get along to more events in the future, perhaps one day in the Metaverse…