So here’s the good news. Despite continuing political uncertainty, generated first by the referendum on Scottish independence and, last year, by the Brexit vote, Scotland’s digital technology sector is in buoyant mood.
According to a survey published by ScotlandIS – a trade body for the information technology industry – 82% of digital businesses expect to increase sales in 2017. In addition,78% of companies intend to hire staff this year.
But the question is, where are the skilled people going to come from? As things stand, Scotland’s digital businesses can hire from across Europe without having to worry about work permits or visas but that is set to change. UK Prime Minister Theresa May has ruled out membership of the Single Market on the grounds that it would mean accepting “free movement” of workers into the UK. If that statement of intent survives the upcoming Brexit negotiations with the EU, the days of frictionless hiring are numbered.Losing access to talent is a prospect that faces the whole of the UK but businesses in Scotland could, at some time in the future, be looking at a different but related set of challenges in terms of its international relationships. With the country’s First Minister pushing for a second Independence referendum – Indyref II to its friends – Scotland could conceivably find itself outside the UK and negotiating a new relationship with the EU.