A new initiative in Scotland has called on businesses to offer paid work experience to computing and IT students, in order to fill a major skills gap.

e-Placement Scotland, an industry backed programme run by ScotlandIS, e-skills UK and Edinburgh Napier University, launched its ‘Let’s Get Paid’ initiative at a time when the technology sector was said to be facing a significant skills shortage.

In Scotland, it was said that 40,000 new entrants were needed to fill software, IT and telecom roles in Scotland over the next five years, but that there had been a 33 per cent drop in applications to computing-related higher education since 2006.

“With record unemployment and a growing skills shortage, our message is that the IT sector is buoyant and it is hiring,” said Sally Smith e-Placement Scotland’s project director and head of the School of Computing at Edinburgh Napier University.

“We believe schemes like this are critical for employers to find and nurture talent as well as for students to improve their employability and gain confidence.

“The call to action ‘let’s get paid’ will run across all our social media channels and throughout our communications over the next 12 months and will hopefully be a rallying cry to students and employers.”

e-Placement Scotland has now been running for 12 months and has seen 191 three month placements created so far, with many students subsequently being offered full time work.