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IT recruitment drive to staff CGI software hub

THE EXECUTIVE in charge of recruiting 250 IT workers in Scotland for industry giant CGI is confident an open source software hub will attract customers from around the world.

Executive: Maggie Morrison believes there is enough IT talent in the country to staff CGI's open source centre.
Executive: Maggie Morrison believes there is enough IT talent in the country to staff CGI's open source centre.

Maggie Morrison, who has worked for the likes of Hewlett Packard, Cisco, 3Com and Cabletron in a career spanning more than three decades, says the company is on course to meet its target of having 50 staff in place in Glasgow by the end of this year.

While Maggie Morrison believes there is a good IT talent base in this country to staff the open source digital services centre she is adamant more needs to be done at school, higher education and policy levels to ensure it stays that way.

The initial plan for the centre was announced last year with the investment by the Canadian company, one of the largest IT providers in the world, underpinned by a £2.5 million Regional Selective Assistance grant from Scottish Enterprise.

Now Ms Morrison, who joined CGI in January, said 10 people are already in place at the West Regent Street offices and are working on projects in the health sector as well as for clients operating in financial services and oil and gas.

She said: "Attracting work to the centre is not going to be an issue. There is a lot of interest in open source and the people we have onboard are keen for others to join them as they have so much work to do.

"I think the company understands the need for innovation and I think the open digital services centre will almost be operating like a start-up but with the funding of a major multi-national corporate behind it.

"I do think the centre will do things slightly differently and it will be encouraged to do that in order to attract the right profile of individual. At the end of the day it will be about turning that centre into a profitable business as well."

The expectation is for a workforce of 250 to be in place by the middle of 2016.

Ms Morrison, director of public sector for CGI as well as the open digital services centre, said: "We have a reasonable pipeline of interviews set up and cvs.

"It is highly competitive as there are a lot of organisations looking for individuals with this skill set."

Those interested in joining CGI are said to be Scots returning home from London as well as English workers from the UK capital keen to experience a lower cost of living.

While Ms Morrison admits there is no single magic bullet solution to get more new people into the industry, she welcomes initiatives such as the £6.6m funding boost the Scottish Government recently announced for the digital industries.

She said: "We haven't spent enough time investing in education and talent for IT. It doesn't matter what you do, technology is at the heart of it. I think we are missing a trick in evangelising IT as a career in Scotland and encouraging bright young people to take it up.

"Whilst there are companies we compete with on a resource and business level the more successful and richer the pipeline we can make in Scotland from a people and business perspective the better it is for all of us."

She also believes the cautionary tale of Silicon Valley, where many manufacturing jobs were created then subsequently lost when the grants ran out and factories were transferred to cheaper locations, has had a knock on effect when people consider careers in IT.

However Ms Morrison believes software engineering jobs, which are typically quite well paid, are much more "sticky" and therefore less likely to move.

She said: "I would love Scotland to be a net exporter of this skill set while at the moment there are a lot of organisations looking outside Scotland to places like Latvia and Lithuania."

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