How will Scotland cement itself as a global leader in quantum technologies?

How will Scotland cement itself as a global leader in quantum technologies?

Earlier this year Technology Scotland and Photonics Scotland published an excellent vision paper on the future of Quantum technology in Scotland.

The vision is of a billion-pound quantum industry in Scotland by 2030 and one of the key challenges is to develop a workforce for this industry.


Vision paper – Quantum technology – a billion pound opportunity for Scotland

The paper’s recommendations are as follows:

Build the multi-level engineering skills base required to develop and commercialise quantum technologies in Scotland.

◊             This should include efforts to improve feedback channels between industry, higher and further education providers, and skills agencies via the creation of a formal quantum skills group.

  • Attract and retain local talent to the Scottish quantum cluster by inspiring the next generation of quantum professionals.

◊             Highlight the role of quantum technologies in our global future and raise awareness of the diverse and rewarding career opportunities within the sector in Scotland.

◊             Encourage greater diversity within Scotland’s quantum sector workforce through initiatives such as Opening up Photonics.

  • Develop a coordinated approach to attracting international talent to Scotland, including efforts to establish Scotland as a global lead in quantum technologies

The role of Talent Scotland and other partner agencies.

Much more can be done by other agencies to support the Photonics and Quantum Industries in Scotland. The wonderful success of industries such as Digital Media, Games and Fintech should rightly be promoted and celebrated but surely there is room to promote other technologies including Photonics and Quantum. For example, Talent Scotland doesn’t even mention Physics, Photonics or Quantum anywhere on it’s site.  There is a clear action here to get Photonics as an industry sector to be featured more prominently across the wider technology landscape in Scotland. The lack of visibility hampers efforts to encourage people into the sector and also to develop skills within the sector.

What about a Quantum Scotland conference?

There is a wonderful opportunity here to present and promote Scotland’s role and growth as a Quantum centre of excellence and expertise. I would envisage the following:

Presentations given by Scottish based companies
Online content created from the event – kind of a Quantum ted talk series.
Invitations to investment vehicles to attend
Invitations to students in UK and abroad to attend and or to view the online content created.

Possibly this could also act as a Quantum careers fair as well.

Employer attitudes need to change

The attitude of employers towards developing the workforce of the future needs to change. Almost all clients we speak to at Enigma People Solutions are looking for a perfect fit candidate with experience as their first option. Essentially, they are looking for a shortcut “go and get someone who is currently doing this role for someone else”. Typically, the more experienced prospect is more expensive as well. Much more willingness to promote from within and to bring people in and develop them is needed.

Much more effort is required to develop people and this, I suspect, requires a collaborative industry / cluster approach to deal with medium and longer-term hiring needs. Increased plans to develop and train incoming talent into the sector from outside technology areas via apprenticeships, and 1 year conversion courses.

Work must continue to develop undergraduate engagement and schools level engagement programmes to increase the flow of talent choosing the industry. This will all still require individual employers showing more commitment and willingness to spend the time and money to develop people that have much but not all the skills, knowledge and experience required.

I believe that Scotland does indeed have all the ingredients to maximise the significant global opportunity quantum represents and if the coordinated approach highlighted in the Vision paper – Quantum technology – a billion pound opportunity for Scotland along with other ideas are implemented then there really is an exciting chance that Scotland will cement itself as a Global Leader in quantum technologies.



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