More than two thirds of Scottish firms 'facing skills shortage'

An Open University report found 77% of Scottish businesses are seeing reduced output as a result.

More than two thirds of Scottish companies struggling to recruit workers amid skills shortage iStock

More than two thirds of Scottish companies are struggling to recruit workers with the right skill set amid a nationwide shortage, a new report has found. 

An Open University study found that 70% of respondents said their organisations are currently facing skills shortages, with 77% seeing reduced output, profitability, or growth as a result. 

The study highlights the impact skills shortages are having on morale and wellbeing, with 72% noting workloads have increased for other staff members. 

The business barometer report found more than 60% of organisations polled have plans in place for recruitment and training in a bid to address skills shortages. 

The annual report is a “temperature check” on the skills landscape in Scotland. The percentage of organisations facing recruitment struggles as a result of the skills shortage has increased by 8% this year to 70%.

Covid-19, Brexit, the war in Ukraine and rising business costs have all fed into the skills shortage, organisations say.

The report, commissioned in partnership with the British Chambers of Commerce, surveyed 1,300 employers across the country.

David Allen from the Open University in Scotland said the need to address the skills gap is more important than ever.

He said: “These recruitment challenges place a focus on growing talent from within the organisation as well as attracting new staff.

“Critically, staff in Scotland seem to be under more pressure than staff elsewhere in the UK. More employers say this year that the skills shortage is increasing their teams’ workload and wellbeing.

“Through the Open University’s work with employees and organisations across Scotland, we’re seeing how targeted skills training can make a huge difference providing new opportunities for individuals and supporting growth for businesses.”

Russell Borthwick, chief executive of Aberdeen and Grampian Chamber of Commerce, added: “By 2030 a fifth of Scotland’s population will be of retirement age and by 2050 this will be one quarter.

“Our nation’s overall population growth since 1970 is only 5%, well behind peer nations. As we attempt to recover from the pandemic and grapple with the impact of geo-political events, these worrying statistics, together with the results of this survey, confirm that labour and skills shortages are worsening, acting as a dangerous drag on economic recovery and growth.

“Workforce and skills planning has never been more important and it’s vital that policy makers, employers, our education system and training providers work meaningfully together to ensure our businesses have access to the people and skills needed to achieve our economic potential.”

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