URGENT investment in tech skills is needed to keep Scotland in the global race for expertise, it is claimed as a survey revealed an ever-increasing IT talent gap.

Polly Purvis, chief executive of digital technologies sector body ScotlandIS, said industry and government has been working together for some time to ensure Scotland keeps up with tech skills developments but that greater training investment is needed as she commented on research findings from recruitment specialist Robert Half Technology UK.

Robet Half found that nine out of 10 chief informations officers (CIOs) are calling on government, businesses and universities to act to fill the tech skills gap.

A further 20 per cent believe that more investment in training, closer collaboration with educators and additional government initiatives are the best ways to tackle the problem.

Ms Purvis said that in Scotland the industry and government's ICT and Digital Technologies Skills Investment Plan is ongoing but challenges remain.

She said: “We would echo the call for more investment in digital technology skills.

"As the world changes and digital permeates all aspects of the Scottish economy the demand for specialist digital skills is only growing.

"Adding to the continuing growth of all sectors of the digital technologies industry from IT to telecoms, to software and games development and digital media, are new and developing disciplines such as data science, cyber, artificial intelligence and Internet of Things which are fuelling that demand."

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Ms Purvis, above, said: "We’re fortunate in Scotland to benefit from a strong working partnership between industry and Scottish Government, and its skills agencies, around the ICT and Digital Technologies Skills Investment Plan to tackle many of the challenges highlighted in the Robert Half report.

"But there is much more to be done if we are to ensure that we have the skills for a truly 21st century digital economy.

"As a country we need to increase the investment in digital technology skills at all levels and we must do that urgently if we are to remain competitive in a global race for talent.”

Matt Weston, UK managing director at Robert Half, said: “This is a worldwide issue that is particularly prominent in IT as digital transformation, automation and industry 4.0 shapes the future of the working world."

Businesses are facing increasing competition for talent in the technology sector, with 79% of CIOs claiming it is now more challenging to find qualified professionals than five years ago and warning of a possible tech talent exodus.

Mr Weston said: "CIOs in the UK recognise that if government, businesses and universities can work together to provide the correct environment to nurture, develop and train IT professionals, the benefits to both organisations and employees will be a major boost to the UK economy."