Scottish IT firms are struggling to find staff with key skills, according to their industry association ScotlandIS.

It says that its annual members' survey, due to be published later this month, has shown that they expect to need 45,000 new professionals over the next five years. But a lack of local talent is leading 52% of the respondents to look outside of Scotland to recruit staff.

Software and web development skills are in the greatest demand (66%), closely followed by commercial and business skills (53%) and project management skills (49%).

Most of the responding companies (70%) were planning to increase their headcount this year, with 60% looking for operatives and 58% for graduates.

Representatives of ScotlandIS have highlighted up and down sides to the findings. Executive Director Polly Purvis said they show potential for growth and that there is a buzz about the industry.

But Deputy Chair Alastair O'Brien said that, with a shortage of qualified graduates, Scotland is losing out to other countries, and that this could prevent the local IT industry from exploiting opportunities.

ScotlandIS has about 250 member companies, including start-ups and big names such as IBM and Oracle.