Accessing talent in Scotland

Businesses in Scotland enjoy up to 40% lower staff costs than London. We have the highest educational attainment of any part of the UK and the highest concentration of universities in Europe. Your business is connected to an exceptionally skilled, well-educated and reliable workforce.

2.8 million workers

170 languages

Low staff turnover

Recruiting and staff costs in Scotland

Businesses in Scotland generally enjoy up to 40% cheaper staff costs than London thanks to our lower living costs. The average full-time salary in Scotland is £577 a week, or around £30,000 a year – but this will vary depending on the sector, skill level and region. Source: Scottish Parliament, ‘Earnings in Scotland 2019’ (PDF, 3,917Kb)

Minimum wages vary depending on age, but workers over 25 currently earn a minimum wage of £8.72 per hour as of April 2020. However, in Scotland we’re keen to promote a real living wage of £9.30 an hour.

As well as salaries, you’ll need to pay pension contributions and employers’ national insurance per employee, as well as employers’ liability insurance. You’ll find more information in this government guide to hiring staff.

"Compared to London, there is far more stability in the workforce and that really benefits a company like ours.”

Jim Tomaney, chief operating officer, Renovite Technologies

"Recruitment has been easier and cheaper in Scotland. In London, you end up using an agency, which costs around 15-20% of the annual salary. That’s a lot of money, especially if they only stay with you for a while."

Brendon Wallace, founder and partner, BC Technologies

Recruiting highly skilled workers

There are several ways to recruit talented people for your business:

  • Advertise your jobs online – top job sites include indeed.com, reed.co.uk and s1jobs.com.
  • Advertise on your website or social media
  • Advertise in specialist trade press, and local and national newspapers. Some are free, but fees vary according to the publication.
  • Use a recruitment agency to handle the recruiting process for your business. They take care of everything – from advertising, to co-ordinating interviews and negotiating offers. Their fees vary, but are typically 15-25% of the successful candidate’s salary.
  • Contact the career departments of colleges and universities in Scotland to find candidates for junior or trainee positions.
  • Use JobCentre Plus – a government-run employment agency that may also be able to find candidates for you.

“The people of Scotland make up one of the best trained, most reliable and cost-competitive workforces in the world."

Robert Glennie, co-founder New Galexy

Hiring interns, apprentices and graduates

As well as working with universities and colleges directly, you can access a number of government agencies and support services to help you hire interns, apprentices and graduates. They can help you find the right people, offer guidance on regulations and provide ongoing support. Apprenticeships can help you train new staff or enhance the skills of your existing employees.

Skills Development Scotland supports thousands of apprenticeships each year in over 80 different areas – from healthcare and financial services to construction and IT. Skills Development Scotland can contribute towards the cost of training, and work with you to make sure the apprenticeship meets your needs.

You can choose from three different types of apprenticeship programmes in Scotland:

  • Foundation apprenticeships with local schools
  • Modern apprenticeships
  • Graduate level apprenticeships

Find out more about taking on apprenticeships

Support from TalentScotland

Are the specialised skills and experience your company needs to grow in short supply? Are you struggling to navigate the UK’s immigration system?

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

  • Access to skilled workers already considering Scotland as a career destination
  • Help to promote your business and jobs internationally
  • Guidance and support on employing international talent
  • Help to understand and navigate the UK business visa and immigration process
  • Help to showcase Scotland and the lifestyle to your candidates and their families
  • Practical information on moving to, living and working in Scotland
  • Insights into Scotland’s business profile and reputation as a top place to work and do business
  • Access to a network of Talent Ambassadors who have moved to Scotland and can offer prospective employees insight into what it's like to live and work here

Get support from TalentScotland

If you’re bringing over your own staff or planning to recruit from outside Scotland, you’ll need to make sure they’re eligible to work here and have the right visas set up. Find practical guidance on checking visa eligibility, preventing illegal working, switching or extending a visa and more:

Visa guidance for employers

Preventing illegal working

As an employer in Scotland, you're legally required to prevent illegal working. Find out what you need to do.

Check eligibility to work in Scotland

As an employer in Scotland, you must check a person’s eligibility to work in the UK before you employ them to work for you.

Visa restrictions

Wondering which migrants your organisation can employ in Scotland? Use our quick reference employer guide.

Switching or extending a visa

When recruiting you may receive job applications from people who are already in the UK on different types of visas - find out if they can change their visas.

Employing a British or Irish citizen

As an employer in Scotland you can hire a British or Irish national without restriction - this means that they don't need a visa to work.

Employing all other nationalities

Nationals of countries outside of the United Kingdom and Ireland will usually require a visa if they wish to work in the United Kingdom.

Employing asylum seekers and refugees

Most asylum seekers don't have the right to work in the UK. You can usually hire someone with refugee status.

If you have any questions about accessing Scotland's talent and want to talk with one of our advisers, we’re ready to help.

You may also be interested in

Our people and skills

In Scotland you’ll have access to a highly skilled workforce with expertise in a number of key sectors.

Industry opportunities

Scotland excels in a number of industry sectors thanks to our natural resources, our expertise and our focus on innovation.

Our global offices

Got a question about recruiting in Scotland? Want to get specialised support from someone in your country? We can help.