Annual Monitoring 2023

We believe that high quality professional learning and leadership experiences will support Scotland as a thriving digital nation. Read about our work and impact in 2023 and what we plan to do next.


Annual Monitoring (update) 2023

Centre of excellence for digital capability

The Scottish Digital Academy is the public sector centre of excellence for digital capability. We support public service reform and transformation through the development of digital skills, leadership and capability. Following publication of our first Monitoring Report in 2022, we will provide a year on update on progress.

Measuring impact

From January 2024, we’re introducing new standards to support the measurement of our impact.



The Scottish Digital Academy provides a pathway for capability development for public sector staff to deliver digitally-enabled services. It accelerates the delivery of a strong, digitally skilled workforce which is a key driver of inclusive economic growth and helps us build stronger professional communities across central and local government. It is only by investing in skills and capability development that we can address some of the challenges we face. I’m proud to see the impact the Scottish Digital Academy is having in all areas of digital and I’m excited to see how we develop our offer further; ensuring that everything we do is designed with and for our users.

Yor Turner

Chief Operating Officer, Digital Directorate


A lighter touch on reporting

We’ve taken a lighter approach to monitoring this year, as our strategic priorities have changed. When we last reported in 2022, our focus was on leadership, professional learning, innovation, partnership and community. Although these principles remain at the heart of what we do, through the Scottish Government’s Digital Programme, we’ve refreshed our focus to align to wider public service reform and to better support the public sector to build capability.

Our reach and scope has increased

Since the Scottish Digital Academy was established in 2018, we’ve delivered to more than 14,000 people across 350 public and third sector organisations. Our reach has increased since 2020, when we moved the majority of our professional learning offer online. Likewise, we now offer more courses than ever before, to include greater depth of learning as well as breadth and across a range of courses related to data, cyber, cloud, service design and agile. 

Last year was very busy and we supported an additional 2,632 people compared to the previous year, with a 77 per cent increase in engagement and participation of professional learning. This figure includes engagement with online self-directed learning. For example, we know that our artificial intelligence pathway has been accessed by civil servants more than 439 times since it was introduced in November 2023.



In 2023, we increased our delivery of professional learning by 77 per cent

We delivered professional learning to 3,429 people in 2022 and 6,061 people in 2023 (source: training management system)

Since 2018, we've delivered professional learning to 14,000 people across 350 organisations

We've been tracking delegate registrations since we were established (source: training management system and registration list)


Delegate numbers over time

This graph illustrates the number of delegates registering to engage with us since 2018. It excludes some data sources not contained within our CMS e.g. where we’ve provided closed courses or sessions which have not required registration. Notably, each year has seen growth with exception to 2020, which is likely a result of impact of the pandemic and when we moved our offer from in-person to online delivery.

A steady increase in self-directed learning and the expansion of our offer, reach and scope has contributed to this ongoing upward trend.





























Increasing the breadth and depth of our offer

More courses to meet demand

Since 2017, we’ve continued to increase the number and variety of courses and programmes that we offer, with a focus on demand areas such as data, cloud, cyber security, agile and service design. By offering opportunities for accreditation and certification, we continue to develop pathways which are supported by robust quality assurance processes. We now have a greater focus on depth as well as breadth of learning opportunity, with emerging progression routes supported by emerging career pathways. To date, we now offer more than 56 courses across a range of subject matter. This continues to grow as we align our offer to existing opportunities, for example in aligning our digital leadership content to the Scottish Government leadership strategy and to supporting senior responsible officers through the Project and Programme Officer Centre of Expertise.


The Leading in a Digital World programme aims to build professional capital and capability, developing digital champions and offering senior leaders an opportunity for interactive discussion where they can exchange ideas, discuss solutions to shared challenges and utilise opportunities for collaborative working. It brings together senior leaders from across Scotland to share practical use cases and examples of new technology and approaches to leadership. We’re already seeing connections between those attending the programme, with opportunities for further co-construction of solutions and resource sharing to tackle common challenges.

In total, since 2018 we’ve supported 284 delegates (80 in 2023) through the programme and have seen gaining interest and growth each year, with wider engagement to include a more diverse cohort.

Through our partnership with Empowering You, we’ve supported 20 aspiring women leaders through the Leading Cyber Security and Leading Digital Transformation programmes, as part of our approach to increasing diversity and inclusion.


Developing data literacy

Our partnership with the Digital Office for Scottish Local Government

The Digital Strategy enables a shared vision of a modern, digital and collaborative government, designed around people. To maximise our resource and to realise this ambition, the Scottish Digital Academy leads on strategic themes as well as supporting other organisations where they are better placed to take the lead. 

In September, we concluded a joint programme of activity in partnership with the Scottish Government Data Division, Digital Office for Scottish Local Government and Perth and Kinross Council. Together, we developed an online learning resource to build data literacy across the public sector. This has now been accessed by more than 43 organisations across Scotland and the UK.

Other joint programmes of work include a service design challenge and collaboration in establishing a new Public Sector Advisory Group for Digital Capability.


Agile transformation

Service design

Courses related to agile transformation continue to drive the most interest and engagement and they remain central to our offer. In 2023, we provided professional learning to 281 people to include service design and guidance related to the Digital Scotland Service Standard. In total, 88 per cent of our offer includes aspects of agile or service design as an approach to public sector transformation and the development of digital products and services.

Our new short courses offered at scale

In late 2022, we introduced a series of agile short courses in response to our profession skills survey. Our stakeholders told us that they wanted to access smaller, bite-sized learning opportunities, so we introduced 2-3 hour sessions on themes such as product roadmaps, user story mapping and agile estimation and planning. Given the demand for this new offer, we removed any associated fees and funded their provision for equitable access across both the public and third sectors.



Responding to change

The DDaT Profession team merges with the Scottish Digital Academy

In April 2023, the Digital, Data and Technology (DDaT) profession team merged with the Scottish Digital Academy. This has enabled a more coherent and cohesive approach to supporting and developing the DDaT profession and in providing information, advice and guidance to the public and third sectors in Scotland. This is crucial, as we see continuing momentum to strengthen and scale the transformation of digital products and services. The future of Scotland as a thriving digital nation, as illustrated in the Digital Strategy, relies on people being equipped with the best possible learning experiences. Ensuring we have a strong and digitally skilled workforce is a key driver to inclusive economic growth. 

Since 2018, we’ve hosted 20 higher education student placements during the summer months, providing them with valuable work experience in a DDaT role. The impact for teams has been access to the latest research from academia and additional capacity to help with projects over the summer, and some of the students have told us that they’ve since taken up a public sector job role as a result of their experience with us.

“This experience solidified my interest in pursuing a career in data and AI.  In the short term, I plan to complete my postgraduate studies and continue developing my technical abilities.  Longer term, I hope to obtain a data-oriented role either in the public sector or with an organisation where I can apply my skills in an impactful way.  I am grateful to have gained this valuable public sector perspective in my career journey.”

Maryam Bala, Data Architect Student

We run regular engagement sessions with the DDaT profession, providing webinars and events that help build capability across our job families.  During 2023, we had 833 DDaT professionals engage with our extended offer.

Building data skills and capability

We’ve strengthened our partnerships with AWS, Microsoft, ONS and The Data Lab. During 2023, data and cloud related self-directed professional learning was accessed by 998 people from across the public sector with an additional 950 civil servants engaging with content as part of our Data Month, sponsored by the Chief Data Officer and supported by the Permanent Secretary, as part of a UK Civil Service initiative, One Big Thing.

Artificial intelligence and large language models

In response to the latest technological adoption of artificial intelligence and large language models, as part of a wider package of support, we provided professional learning to 347 alumni and 107 civil servants, with a specific focus on challenges and opportunities for use cases related to productivity and supporting public services. Our offer included a range of events to include a one day in-person workshop and a series of symposia.


We delivered professional learning related to artificial intelligence to 454 senior leaders

In 2023, our offer was made available to senior leaders from our alumni community and to senior civil servants (source: training management system)

During Data Month, we provided access to data-related professional learning which was accessed by 950 civil servants

Data Month was held in September 2023 as part of our approach to One Big Thing (source: training management system and registration list)

281 people engaged with professional learning related to service design and the Digital Scotland Service Standard (DSSS)

Including closed courses for teams and organisations (source: training management system)

88 percent of the profession learning delivered in 2023 is related to agile transformation

Including short courses, courses and programmes (source: training management system and registration list)


Our focus for 2024

Changing the paradigm 

The Digital Programme is a new area of work that will improve the way the Scottish Government does digital. The implementation of the programme will enable the delivery of quality digital public services that are predictable and seamless for the user. A shift in focus from individual projects and programmes at the local level and up to the system level will ensure that we are working on and delivering those projects and programmes that are the most important.

The programme is a key enabler to public service reform by embedding reuse as the norm, driving efficiencies across services, and the development of the Scottish public sector digital ecosystem.

Digital Scotland Service Manual

A new Digital Scotland Service Manual will provide a common methodology for digital transformation, which will move beyond organisational boundaries to focus on end-to-end service reform across the public sector. A wraparound service will embed these common ways of working into public sector digital transformation.

Beneath each workstream, exists a number of projects and deliverables which are intended to help find, manage, and develop capability. This is a long term programme that will take a few years to complete, but we’re working in an agile way and you’ll begin to see the first iterations over the coming weeks and months, with further incremental developments as we move into 2024.




Quality and standards

Our work is underpinned by our quality and standards.

We report annually on our progress through monitoring. This may take the form of an in-depth report or an update to the previous report, published on our website. Our last in-depth report was published in October 2022, with the next one expected in 2026.

Our new standards were introduced in January 2024 and have therefore not informed any previous reporting, although there will be some similarities compared to previously reported data. We expect that they will begin to inform a better understanding of impact from this date.

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