SCOTLAND’S digital technologies industry experienced strong growth in 2015, with 68 per cent of firms reporting rising in sales and 70 per cent expressing confidence about the coming year, according to new research.

The Scottish Technology Industry Survey 2016, published by digital technologies trade body ScotlandIS, also shows more than a quarter of companies reporting an increase in turnover of at least 20 per cent, and a rise from 57 to 60 per cent in firms selling their selling their products or services overseas.

“Our industry has experienced exceptional growth in recent years and 84,000 people are now employed in digital technologies roles across Scotland,” said ScotlandIS chief executive Polly Purvis. “It’s really positive to see that so many of our members are expecting sales growth in 2016 and the increase in the number of companies doing business overseas is particularly encouraging.”

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Looking ahead, 81 per cent of businesses expect sales to increase over the next 12 months, while almost three quarters (74 per cent) expect to be on the look-out for recent graduates in 2016.

Software and web development are the most sought after skill sets, followed by business skills such as project management, sales and marketing.

“2015 was an exceptional year in terms of demand for new staff and demand continues to outstrip supply,” Ms Purvis said. “Most of our members report difficulties in finding the staff they need, so we must continue efforts to develop a strong and sustainable talent pipeline.”

Medium sized businesses achieved the best performance in 2015, with 82 per cent reporting increased sales. Forty seven per cent of companies also reported improved profit margins. The proportion of medium sized companies exporting grew from 49 per cent to 70 per cent, and nine out of ten businesses expect sales to increase in 2016.

Scotland’s digital technologies industry generates more than £5 billion in output and, according to KPMG’s Tech Monitor, the number of tech sector enterprises in Scotland grew 43.3 per cent between 2010 and 2015, second only to London at 54.6 per cent.