finance

Scottish businesses 'suffering the worst' from skills gaps



A third of Scottish business leaders have said that skills gaps are holding them back – the highest level in the UK, according to Shakespeare Martineau.

The law firm’s survey, among 1,000 senior decision-makers in UK businesses, showed that out of all of the UK nations, business leaders in Scotland felt that people – or lack thereof – was to blame for stifling their plans.

Despite this, 44% of leaders in Scotland are investing more in their business than their counterparts, citing talent, learning and development, IT and diversity as top priorities.

The research revealed that early half (47%) of the Scottish business leaders surveyed felt that the skills gap and lack of talent was negatively impacting their ambitions.

While investment appetite for property and expansion has decreased since the pandemic, business leaders have turned their attention to investing through learning and development and technology.

Almost half (44%) are investing more in 2022 compared to 2021. Learning and development investment was at 37%, IT was at 29%, talent was at 25% and technology at 23%, in terms of the highest ranking areas of investment by Scottish leaders.

With an emphasis on investing money back into their business, less than one in 10 leaders are spending money on geographical expansion (10%), new property (10%) or acquiring other businesses (6%).

Just under a third of Scottish leaders (31%) said that increasing diversity within their business is a top ambition for the coming year.

Amal Kaur, partner at Shakespeare Martineau, based in Glasgow, said: “Businesses in Scotland have previously been focused on recruiting new talent that’s right on their doorstep, but Covid-19 has proved that location is no longer a limiting factor.”

She continued: “It’s no surprise that property and office space aren’t high on the investment agenda – the pandemic has provided opportunities to re-think business structures and business leaders now have more options than ever around how they want to grow in future.

“Having a physical footprint is no longer a ‘must have’, thanks to modern technology, with a high volume of employees moving jobs in favour of positions with more flexibility, employers are having to work harder to secure the future of their workforce.

“As a result, many business leaders are reassessing their business strategies moving forward, which is evident from the surge of investment in talent, IT and training.”

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