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 has one of the highest concentration of universities in Europe and over 50% of our working population has further education.

Our rich pool of graduates

Thanks to free tuition fees for Scottish and EU students, we’re removing financial barriers and building a wide pool of graduates based on talent and passion.

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.

World-class universities

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 300, according to the 2021 QS World University Rankings. This means that not only are 50% of our population equipped with higher education, but many have received education from world-class institutions.

Scotland's top 3 in world university rankings
  • University of Edinburgh (20th) 
  • University of Glasgow (77th) 
  • University of St Andrews (96th)

Source: QS World University Rankings 2021

Read more about Scotland's education system

"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

Ground-breaking research

Our people aren’t just highly skilled – many are leading experts in their field, contributing to ground-breaking research that can have significant real-world effects. In fact, 86% of Scottish research submitted to the Research Excellence Framework for 2014 was judged to have ‘outstanding’ or ‘very considerable’ impact. Scotland has a great track record of turning this research into business, with university spin-outs forming at a dizzying rate.

More companies are formed based on university research here than any other part of the UK.

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

Skills landscape in Scotland guide (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.

Our 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

Looking to hire talented people in Scotland?

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

Looking to 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.

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Skills landscape in Scotland guide (PDF, 1.2MB)

If you have any questions or want to talk with one of our advisers, we’re always ready to help.

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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.

Recruitment and cost savings

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.