A NEW digital Charter combining expertise from industry and academia is aiming to reverse a potentially critical decline in computing science learning in Scotland.

The new Digital Technology Education Charter has so far attracted more than 60 organisations of the calibre of Morgan Stanley, JP Morgan and the University of Glasgow to try to attract more young people into learning digital skills. The inspiration comes from computing science teacher, Toni Scallion who sees first hand how the subject is slipping off the curriculum.

“There is on average 13,000 new digital jobs created in Scotland every year but through apprenticeships and graduates we are only training around 5000 to fill them,” she said.

“Inspiring pupils at a young age is crucial to filling this skills gap. Not all schools even teach computing science anymore. For a sector that is increasingly touching every aspect of everyday life this is completely mad.

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“This has been a pattern for at least the last decade and we need to take action now or the subject, along with the vast employment opportunities that it provides a grounding in, will be lost for a generation.”

While employment opportunities are going up in this subject area both the number of teachers and the number of pupils studying the subject is going down.

In 2008 there were 766 computing science teachers teaching 25,000 pupils, by 2020 this had fallen to 595 teachers teaching less than 10,000 pupils with fewer than 2000 of these female. Research by technology sector body ScotlandIS suggests that 75% of employers are already experiencing difficulties in recruiting qualified digital staff.

“There is an outdated perception, and a general lack of awareness, of the opportunities on offer within technology which inhibit talented people from exploring and ultimately building successful careers in the industry,” said Eve Wallace, executive director of technology at Morgan Stanley.

She added: “Through this charter, Morgan Stanley is excited to be a part of an initiative that promotes a partnership between industry and education, helping to tap into and develop the exceptional young talent we have in Scotland and hopefully raise awareness to current and future generations the opportunities that are available to them in the digital sector.”