Scotland business

Skill shortages 'opening up across Scottish economy'

hotel reception Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption The biggest shortages of applicants for permanent jobs were in hotels and catering

Skill shortages are opening up across the Scottish economy, according to recruitment consultants.

The monthly survey of around 100 expert found a continued drop in the number of people available for jobs.

That is despite redundancies in the oil and gas sector, and a slowdown in economic growth.

Figures for last month suggest an employment gap is opening up between Scotland's performance and the rest of the UK.

The latest research, carried out by the Markit consultancy, found a a very weak rise in the number of people starting permanent roles, having eased sharply since April.

Starting pay

It was the lowest growth in six months.

A sign of the skill shortages was that those who did find permanent roles found their starting pay increased at the strongest rate since May last year.

The biggest shortages of applicants for permanent jobs were in hotels and catering. For temporary roles, the biggest shortages were in care work and the health service.

These are both sectors in which employers look particularly strongly to recruit migrants workers, from outside the UK.


Image copyright PA

Analysis: Douglas Fraser, BBC Scotland Business/Economy Editor

It seems odd that we can have a slowing economy at the same time as growing skill shortages.

It seems even stranger to find recruiters complain they can't find the right engineering skills for the jobs on offer, when the oil and gas sector has been shedding such a lot of workers.

But if the Markit survey is any guide, that's where we seem to be.

Part of the explanation is that the Scottish jobs market has been tightened by the very strong job-creating pull of the English labour market, particularly in and around London.

The Labour Market Survey also points to a lot of Scots leaving the labour market. And it's not clear why.

Transferable skills

But the challenge now for individuals, as for government, is to match up skills with areas of shortage. The range of transferable skills in the offshore sector, for instance, will be a priority for adaptation to other areas of demand.

However, few drillers have what it takes to slot in to vacancies in the hospitality business, which is showing signs of more rapid growth than elsewhere.

To ensure the tourism industry is matching the demand from staycationers and inbound visitors, employers need to be able to draw in skills from other parts of the European Union and beyond.

Scotland's rural hotels rely on foreign workers. If the current debate about migration is to stem the flow of them into Scotland and into jobs, wages and prices can be expected to inflate, and the country's tourism offer will become less competitive.


The jobs market has tightened in recent months, with recruitment rising at a very strong rate across the UK as a whole. The Scottish jobs market has not performed as strongly. Unemployment is now higher than the UK as a whole.

The most recent figures from the Office for National Statistics showed a drop in the number of people available for work, and also the number of people in work.

Commenting on the Markit survey of recruitment consultants, Kevin Green, chief executive of the Recruitment and Employment Confederation, said: "UK businesses are now facing candidate shortages in nearly every sector of the economy.

'Uncertainty over hiring'

"From engineering firms, to catering companies, schools and hospitals, we need more people with the right skills for the jobs that are available. Despite this, employers are showing uncertainty about hiring in the run-up to the EU referendum.

"Whatever happens after the referendum, we need to ensure a sensible approach to immigration is taken, so that employers have access to the people they need."

Mr Green added: "The hospitality sector is a case in point. The latest data shows a surge in demand for staff from hotels and restaurants as they expect many holidaymakers to stay in the UK this summer rather than travel abroad."

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