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Digital Conference helps next generation of tech talent take first steps

Digital Conference helps next generation of tech talent take first steps
1 March 2024
Digital Conference helps next generation of tech talent take first steps

Digital Conference helps next generation of tech talent take first steps

By Nick Stapleton

There’s plenty of talk about a skills crisis in the Scottish tech industry right now. And it’s certainly true that the strength and growth of the sector has made it difficult for tech firms north of the border to attract the talent they need. But it isn’t just an issue for tech firms in Scotland, it is a global one.

We’ve had our fair share of challenges attracting the right people to ETB HQ over the years too. Being in such a rural location makes it even more tricky. As wonderful as Dalbeattie is, it’s a struggle when you’re competing against businesses based in large cities or the Central Belt for the same small pool of skilled workers. This makes developing technology skills from within our local community even more important.

As a business, we’re not generally known for sitting on our hands and, when faced with a problem, we like to attack it head on. It was in this spirit that, in 2022, we established a partnership with Dalbeattie High School to help support and develop the next generation of local tech talent.

The latest initiative to come out of this partnership was its inaugural Digital Conference. We worked closely with Mr Kennedy at Dalbeattie High School to give students at the school a better idea of what tech jobs and careers are available, right here in Dalbeattie. With options choices coming up for many, as well as the imminent launch of a brand-new computer science course, the timing was perfect.

So, together with EY and, we headed to the High School to host a series of interactive workshops all about different aspects of the tech sector. Rather than me tell you about what was going on though, I’ll let those who led the workshops for ETB explain what they did and what they took from the day.

Introducing ecommerce

We wanted to show the wide range of different tasks and jobs that are involved in the ecommerce process. From assessing and evaluating the quality of the product, right the way through to the buyer experience, there are a lot of people involved, each with a different set of skills who are responsible for a different set of tasks. We wanted to show the young people that you don’t have to know coding or be an engineer to have a career in tech.

We looked at what works well and what doesn’t work so well when it comes to photography and how to make a product look its best online.

Stephen Gaston, Senior Product Controller

We were really impressed by what the kids had to say. They were totally engaged in the session and a couple of them were already thinking about jobs in technology but didn’t know what was out there. So, it was great to be able to show them the variety of roles that exist.

The level of knowledge was pretty inspiring too. We didn’t really expect many of them to be that familiar with the world of ecommerce but, in fact, most of them knew a lot of the processes involved, as well as what good and bad looked like. It certainly felt like there were some future industry leaders in the room.

Stephen Henry, Product Controller

Encouraging future engineers

I really wanted to get across the full range of products that we sell at ETB and how much variation there is in the different types of technology. So, to start off with, I took them through the basics of our product portfolio, as well as explaining the variety of different jobs and expertise involved – including jobs of the future that might not even exist yet.

The groups really came to life when we got the actual tech out though. We were looking at a real server, as well as a variety of components that they had to attach in the right places. It was amazing how quickly they worked it all out and were able to take some of the stuff we’d talked about for the first 10 minutes and apply it in practice.

There was such a keenness to learn and some of the questions really impressed me. The engagement levels were brilliant, and it was really clear that they all wanted to be there and wanted to know more about the industry. I wasn’t quite fearing for my job, but I certainly wouldn’t be surprised if one or two of the young people ended up as my colleagues in a few years’ time.

Jack McMurdo, Engineering Manager

We’re really passionate about helping to cultivate the next wave of talent for the Scottish tech industry and believe that our local community can play a role in achieving that. If you’d like to hear more about what we’re doing, or you’re interested in starting a career in tech, please get in touch – we’d really love to hear from you.

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