Our People and Skills

From traditional industries to the latest in digital and tech, Scotland’s people have the skills you need. Find out how we could help your business.

Why Scotland has the people you need

Our highly skilled workforce

Scotland's workforce is internationally recognised as one of the best trained, most reliable and cost-competitive labour forces in the world.

Our rich pool of graduates

Scotland has one of the highest concentration of universities in Europe. Over 50% of Scotland's working population has further education.

Our global community

We welcome workers from all around the world, creating a workforce that’s rich in a variety of skills, experiences and languages.

Your business, at home in Scotland

Covid-19 has reshaped how we work and Scotland is already ahead of the curve and adapting its offering for companies like yours. As your company finds its place in the new ‘work from anywhere’ world, you can be assured that we’ll keep you plugged in to a valuable support network. A dynamic business community where researchers, industry groups, advisers, local government and intermediaries are on hand and ready to help.

Flexible people

Finding the right talent pool, which readily adapts to change and has the right approach to flexible working, is fundamental. And in Scotland, we didn’t become known as one of the most attractive locations for investment by being tied to a 9-5 office routine. Our people are creative thinkers who also value – and benefit from – a healthy work-life balance.

Reliable connectivity

Digital connectivity has never been more essential than it is today, as the case for a permanent ‘work from anywhere’ model gathers pace. The good news is that Scotland is ranked among the top 30 countries and cities for digital connectivity. And our future-proofed fibre network is on track to make Scotland one of the best-connected places anywhere in Europe.

Redefining the workplace

As the case for dispersed working gathers momentum and global workplaces continue to evolve, we recognise that your real estate needs may need to change too. Whether this means you need even more grade A office space, a reconfigured footprint, a global training facility or a network of touchdown hubs, Scotland can offer a range of options to meet your needs.

Delivering fair work

We see fair work – those well-paid and fulfilling jobs – as being fundamentally important to delivering inclusive growth, which in turn will drive innovation, productivity and inclusion in Scotland. So, when you invest in Scotland, you’ll have access to a range of resources, funding and tools to support your fair and flexible working objectives.

Read more about our valuable support networks

From California to Scotland

Skilled talent was one of the top reasons why Spire, a Californian satellite-based data company, set up in Glasgow.

“When we looked at Scottish staff, we found that the passion for what they do, their character and work ethic, is absolutely world-class.”

Peter Platzer, CEO, Spire

World-class education and training

Scotland offers a revolutionary curriculum and internationally-renowned universities. Whether you’re thinking of locating to Scotland and moving your family here or just want to hire the best staff for your business, our fantastic education system is right on your doorstep.

Scotland’s universities are among some of the best in the world, and the research coming out of them sets us apart as global leaders. 

While the University of Edinburgh is ranked among the top 20 universities in the world, five Scottish universities are ranked in the global top 250 according to the 2021 Times Higher Education World University Rankings. This means that not only are over 50% of our population equipped with higher education, but many have received education from world-class institutions, ensuring the high-quality talent pool you need.

Scotland has a network of 27 colleges covering every part of the country supporting people of all ages in gaining the technical, professional and vocational skills needed to thrive in Scotland’s economy.

More about universities in Scotland on Scotland.org

More about Scotland's education system on Scotland.org

Ground-breaking research

Our people aren’t just highly skilled – many are leading experts in their field, contributing to ground-breaking research that is changing the world: 86% of Scottish university research is deemed to have 'outstanding' or 'very considerable' impact.

Scotland has a great track record of turning this research into business, and has the highest rate of university spinouts in the UK.

"We realised that there is a great fit between the skills we are looking for and the expertise coming from Scotland’s universities.”

David Brown, co-founder and chief product officer at Previse

Contact centre operator - Image by Bongkarn Thanyakij on Pexels

Low staff turnover

Did you know that Scots are also well known for their loyalty?

With typically low attrition rates across many industries, existing investors tell us they’ve benefited from staff turnover levels so low, they’re 'unprecedented'. This means less disruption to your business operations in Scotland, helping things run smoothly, and making it easy for you to employ and retain staff.

Strong multilingual workforce

Language and communication capabilities are one of our strengths with our strong multilingual workforce speaking 170 languages, allowing you to access the language skills you need.

“Language skills are a key requirement for the wealth management business. Often, we're looking for highly skilled people with legal or financial expertise who also speak several different languages. The cosmopolitan nature of Edinburgh and its attractiveness as a city means that we've always been able to find the talent we need.”

Sandy Brodie, Managing Director at J.P. Morgan in Edinburgh

An introduction to the skills landscape in Scotland (PDF, 1.2MB)

What are Scotland’s top skills?

Thanks to our world-class education system and global community, our workforce has a range of skills and expertise across different sectors. In 2018, we had over 35,000 graduates from scientific subjects, and over 40,000 graduates from non-scientific subjects. This included a mix of undergraduates, taught postgraduates and research postgraduates.

Scotland's graduates have degrees in a variety of subjects, including:

  • Sciences: biological, physical, chemical and mathematical
  • Subjects allied to medicine
  • Business
  • Engineering and technology
  • Creative arts and design, including games development
  • Computer science, including data science
  • Education
  • Law
  • Languages

Digital skills for the digital economy

Data is the future. Scotland recognises the value of data and is committed to promoting its responsible use to benefit our society and economy.  That means big investment in our training hubs.

Over the next 10 years, the University of Edinburgh will train 100,000 people in data applications across major sectors and will partner with Heriot-Watt University on data-based projects across public, private and third sectors. This will create a richer pool of data, digital and tech expertise ready for growing businesses to tap into. 

  • University of Edinburgh is home to the Bayes Centre, Europe's largest training hub in data sciences 
  • The Data Lab partners with 11 Scottish universities to lead the UK’s data science Masters and CPD programmes 
  • CodeClan is Scotland's only accredited academy dedicated to tackling digital skills gaps

Hire talented people in Scotland

Discover how Scotland's digital talent can support your business:

Hire from outside Scotland

TalentScotland can help employers attract, develop and retain skilled professionals. Whether you need advice about relocating your staff, hiring from outside the UK or anything in between, they can help.

Get support from TalentScotland

CodeBase incubator, Edinburgh. Image features L-R Oliver Littlejohn and Emman Toomey.

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You might also be interested in

Accessing talent

Businesses in Scotland generally enjoy up to 40% cheaper staff costs than London thanks to our lower living costs. We can help with practical advice on recruiting and staff costs in Scotland.

Industry expertise

Scotland has skills and expertise in a range of industries, from energy, technology and sciences to creative industries and food and drink.

Digital skills support

Discover how Scotland's digital talent is benefiting businesses around the world and how Skills Development Scotland can help you access that talent.

If you'd like to access Scotland's talent and skills, we’re ready to help connect you to the right people.