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Scottish Government launches digital strategy

Scotland vows to boost technology jobs, invest in skills, provide universal access to superfast broadband and improve infrastructure

The Scottish Government has launched its digital strategy, promising to make the country a “vibrant and outward-looking digital nation”.

The strategy includes plans to increase the number of digital jobs in Scotland to 150,000 by 2021, improve digital skills and increase superfast broadband access across the country.  

The Scottish Government also plans to launch a digital growth fund to “address the current undersupply of digital skills” and extend its digital boost programme, which aims to give advice and support on digital issues to businesses.

The government also aims to “create the conditions in which our digital technologies industries can thrive, working with industry to meet a shared objective to employ 150,000 in digital technology roles over the next five years”.

“We want to create some of the best conditions in the world for the digital sector to flourish. We will work in partnership with the industry to help achieve this goal.”  

The Scottish Government also wants the country to be seen as “an international pioneer of citizen-led service design” and plans on developing and implementing a Scottish approach to user research and service design.

Just as in Westminster, the Scottish Government plans on introducing shared technology platforms and move public sector data hosting to the cloud.  

“Our digital first standards enshrine a commitment to co-production which is already seen in, for example, the creation of user experience panels to help us shape the way in which we will provide social security benefits in Scotland following the transfer of powers from the UK government,” said the strategy.

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Scottish cabinet secretary for finance and constitution Derek Mackay said there was a “huge opportunity” to ensure Scotland, its businesses and people have the tools to harness the potential of digital technologies.

“Our vision is for Scotland to become even more digitally competitive and attractive,” he said. “By developing our existing workforce, as well as increasing our digital capabilities across society and the business community, we will ensure our citizens have the opportunity to improve their digital skills with everyone who wants to get connected able to do so, and that public services designed by and for citizens are secure.”

“This will in turn will have a positive impact on growing our economy.”

Delivering superfast broadband

The Scottish government aims to facilitate the deployment of broadband infrastructure capable of delivering speeds of over 30Mbps – 6Mbps faster than the UK government’s definition of superfast – to properties that will not receive such a service with existing or planned infrastructure by the end of 2021.

By the end of 2017, the government aims to have delivered access to superfast broadband to 95% of Scottish premises.

It also plans to “revolutionise performance by connecting fibre to masts, small cells and sensors, and deliver further increases in speed and reliability as we move towards symmetric gigabit connectivity”, and extend international fibre links in order to reduce the country’s reliance on London.

“We want to promote an “outside-in” approach. We will prioritise future public investment on our hardest to reach rural areas while ensuring that our UK partners prioritise rural coverage when it comes to setting future coverage obligations. At the same time, we will encourage commercial suppliers to address remaining gaps in urban Scotland,” said the strategy.

Telecoms important to Scottish economy

Although telecoms is the responsibility of the UK parliament, its “central importance” to the Scottish emonomy means the government has become “increasingly active in this area”.

“We know that in the past, too many areas of our country have not shared in the benefits of good quality connectivity. We therefore want to work in partnership with the UK Government, other parts of the Scottish public sector, the UK regulator Ofcom and industry to ensure this doesn’t happen in future,” said the strategy.

“The Scottish Government will use its powers to create an environment where the private sector can invest, while ensuring that Ofcom and the UK government do more to shape the regulatory environment in a way that recognises and responds to the unique challenges posed by Scotland’s low population density and geography.”

Scotland will also produce a digital health and care strategy by the end of 2017, setting out its priorities for the Scottish NHS.

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