Dalbeattie High School To Hold First Digital Conference

A local high school in Dalbeattie has partnered with a neighbouring technology company to establish its first technology conference in a bid to address the ever-growing IT skills gap.


Dalbeattie High School has extended its relationship with ETB Technologies, a leading supplier of refurbished enterprise IT equipment, to host its first Digital Conference at the school on Thursday 15th February for S1-S6 students. The organisations have joined forces to tackle the global issue head-on and encourage more students to take up computing in S4.


The conference will be open to 60 students from the school and will provide them with the opportunity to understand the breadth of career opportunities that exist within the technology sector. Sessions will be practical and cover IT engineering, eCommerce and digital marketing. These sessions will be delivered by ETB and leading integrated communications agency, Clark.


The pace of technological evolution has, in recent years, created a significant skills gap. Data from Userlane suggests around two-thirds of businesses are experiencing a tech skills shortage in their workforce.


Ross Kennedy, Teacher of Physics & Computing Science at Dalbeattie High School said: “Scotland has a brilliant tech ecosystem, however, many of the organisations involved in it are based in the central belt. This means our young people in Dumfries and Galloway often have limited exposure to the huge range of careers available within the tech sector. As a school, we have been working hard in recent years to change this and establishing the Digital Conference aims to raise awareness and further equip our pupils with the skills they need to kick off their career in tech. Our partnership with ETB Technologies has been invaluable in developing our Computing curriculum and it’s fantastic to have them onboard with the Digital Conference.”


ETB established a formal relationship with the school in late 2022 when it delivered practical technical workshops for S3 students. Through a series of sessions, students were given hands-on experience in identifying the key components of a server, understanding the differences between a PC and a server, and how to strip and rebuild a computer. Pupils were also able to gain an insight into the world of work, the skills involved and the possible pathways into various IT careers.


Nick Stapleton, Managing Director at ETB Technologies added: “Having run a technology business in the south of Scotland for more than two decades, I have seen firsthand how technology has not only evolved at pace but also created a skills chasm. Rather than complain about this ever-expanding skills gap – which will only grow as innovation in the sector continues at pace – technology companies must recognise their responsibility in tackling it.
“As we come into the third year of working with the high school, it is important that we don’t lose this momentum. It’s easy to think that working in the tech sector only involves IT troubleshooting and engineering. However, through the Digital Conference, we want to highlight that there are so many more opportunities. Hopefully exposing students to the broad range of roles in the sector will inspire them to take up a computing course at school or college in the future and contribute to closing the skills gap that exists.”


ETB Technologies is currently consulting alongside Dalbeattie High School and other partners in the curriculum development of a new National Progression Award, which is in the final stages of development with the SQA.