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Scottish Tech Army seeks out IT experts to combat Covid-19

Tech workers who find themselves out of work are being asked to volunteer their time to help build digital technology to support coronavirus efforts

IT workers in Scotland who have been furloughed under the UK government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme are being asked to support public sector Covid-19 IT projects.

The Scottish Tech Army project, co-founded by seasoned Edinburgh-based entrepreneurs Alistair Forbes and Peter Jaco, aims to build a coronavirus rapid reaction force.

Working with recruitment agencies, the initiative aims to identify IT volunteers whose skills can be used to support public sector organisations that are developing digital projects to help tackle the outbreak of the virus and the management of the recovery process.

CivTech, the Scottish government programme that uses digital technology to simplify access to public services, will help to find suitable projects that require IT experts.

Kate Forbes, Scottish government cabinet secretary for finance, said: “Our tech community can really support the national response to the Covid-19 pandemic. I know how much talent and skill exists within the tech community and this welcome initiative gives volunteers the chance to play a valuable role while continuing to stay at home to protect the NHS and save lives.”

Alistair Forbes, formerly head of software and internet at investment firm Mercia Technologies, said: “Public and private sector workers – from health and social care staff through to food supply chain and logistics workers – are out there risking their lives to battle this pandemic and the Scottish Tech Army gives our digital community the chance to demonstrate that we’ve got their backs.

Data and digital technologies are key weapons in the fight against the coronavirus and we’ll be able to rapidly deploy the resources and skills needed to tackle the outbreak and support the people who are being affected. We see the opportunity to deliver three-way benefits – providing support to the people and organisations on the front line, delivering meaningful impact in the communities around Scotland, and giving the volunteers a sense of purpose and achievement in what are very challenging times for them.

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime challenge and I’m confident the Scottish tech community will rise to it. We have had an immediate and enthusiastic response from all the organisations we have approached for help in setting up the Scottish Tech Army, including leading professionals from the legal, recruitment and communications sectors, as well as the Scottish government.”

Paul Atkinson, founder of recruitment firm Head Resourcing, which is supporting the Scottish Tech Army, added: “The Scottish Tech Army will not only help the public sector to complete vital projects, but will also give participants the chance to keep their skills sharp for when it’s time to return to work.”

Volunteers can sign up to join the Scottish Tech Army on the website here.

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