Comment: We must all embrace the digital future

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THE sky truly is the limit in the world of digital as Edinburgh-based business Skyscanner has proven.

What started with just three people ten years ago has now become Scotland’s first $1 billion web company.

Reassuringly, the global travel search firm has said that the Capital will always remain its headquarters, regardless of how it grows.

And with offices in the US, China, Spain, Singapore and Bulgaria, among others, it seems certain to continue on the path of growth.

But the important thing for Edinburgh and the Lothians is not just to sit back and clap the efforts of founder and chief executive Gareth Williams.

Skyscanner has benefited from a talented stream of graduates from the city’s universities. But if the tech sector is to become a core part of Scotland’s economy we must do better at encouraging young people into these university courses and into the industry via other routes.

At Codebase, a tech hub located in Lady Lawson Street, there are dozens of fledgling firms with great ideas looking for investment.

But it’s not only funding that is holding some of them back – it’s a lack of available talent.

Edinburgh, and Scotland, needs more young coders, bright young things who realise there’s a future in the tech sector and jobs in this part of the world.

That means a change of mindset not only from parents, but crucially from schools. Too often the traditional routes of banker, lawyer and accountant are the professions that our careers advisors push.

What’s wrong with going to work in a hoodie and a pair of trainers, instead of a suit and a pair of brogues? Ask those working at Skyscanner or at Fanduel or Kotikan, other city success stories.

These are well-paid professional jobs with good career prospects, but perhaps not the roles parents imagined for them.

Talent, not tradition, is the way forward. We must all embrace the digital future.