A SCOTTISH trade body representing the country’s digital technology sector has called for government action in five key areas to limit any negative impact caused by Brexit.
ScotlandIS issued its call for action after the majority of its members said they were concerned about the result of the EU vote – three quarters said it would negatively impact access to skilled staff, sales and customer confidence.
It set out five strategic priorities – access to markets, people, productivity, research and academia and regulations.
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Polly Purvis, ScotlandIS chief executive said: “Businesses in Scotland’s digital technologies sector are looking for decisive action that will reduce economic and political uncertainty, protecting sales and customer confidence.
“Tackling the productivity problem head on, together with additional and accelerated investment in the communications infrastructure, innovation challenges, export initiatives, and support to prepare companies for new markets can help to rebalance the economy.
“By addressing these issues now, Scotland and the UK will be in a better position whatever the final outcome of negotiations.”
Purvis said digital technologies made a significant contribution to Scotland’s economy, and the sector’s flexibility and international outlook would make it even more important in coming years.
“Digital technologies can help all sectors of the economy to increase productivity through, for example, business and process transformation, ecommerce and the increased use of data analytics to inform decision-making,” she said.
“This represents an exceptional opportunity for our industry as significantly increased productivity must be one of the key strategies for Scotland’s economy to remain competitive post-Brexit.”
ScotlandIS said continued access to the European Single Market would be the ideal outcome, allowing trade to continue without barriers, but failing that, tariff-free arrangements would be needed for future trade with EU countries.
The digital industry was already facing a skills shortage and it said Brexit uncertainty was a serious threat. ScotlandIS called for all EU citizens currently living and working in Scotland to be granted indefinite leave to remain, along with continued easy access to skilled EU workers in the future.
Scotland and the UK also needed to refocus efforts to ensure we have enough home-grown digital professionals in the years to come. This meant increased spend and commitment to digital technology skills education, upskilling those already in the workforce and giving young people the ability to thrive in the digital world.
The body said Scotland had a chance to counter the effects of uncertainty and stimulate the economy by becoming a more competitive and productive place to do business.
It welcomed the First Minister’s announcement to provide an additional £100m funding boost for infrastructure projects and urged the Scottish Government to allocate part of the funding to digital connectivity projects.
Scotland is renowned for its research expertise in computing science and informatics and ScotlandIS said our universities and researchers needed continued access to EU research funding and talented staff and students from the EU and beyond to remain globally competitive.