More than two thirds of firms in Scotland expect to struggle to fill highly-skilled roles, according to a survey.
A total of 86 per cent of businesses questioned in the CBI/Pearson education and skills survey said they are not confident about filling these positions in the future.
A majority of companies (77 per cent) expect to have more jobs for people with higher-level skills in the coming years with 70 per cent needing more people with leadership and management talent.
The survey of 186 businesses in Scotland found they are committed to developing talent with more than three-quarters offering mentoring or coaching opportunities (76 per cent) or supporting employees in studying part time (70 per cent).
More than half (54 per cent) have increased their links with schools or colleges but many businesses report dissatisfaction with educational standards of school or college leavers - 26 per cent report concern over literacy and 25 per cent are unhappy with the basic numeracy displayed.
One key concerns was the Apprenticeship Levy which is charged to UK employers to fund new apprenticeships.
More than two thirds of businesses operating in Scotland (67 per cent) demand better clarity between the UK and the devolved nations as to how the system will work across the UK’s internal borders.
Neil Carberry, CBI director for employment and skills, said: “Skills are a top business priority but over two-thirds of firms in Scotland think they won’t be able to get the people they need. Getting the skills and education system right, as the Scottish Government seeks to close the attainment gap, will remain a big challenge for ministers.
“There are very positive signs throughout the country with more businesses in Scotland supporting schools, offering careers advice and investing in workplace training - firms need to keep upping their game in this area.
“The recent announcement of an enterprise and skills review, coupled with the new national delivery plan for Scottish education are positive steps that show the Scottish Government is alive to the challenges business face to recruit the right talent. Businesses want to see reforms that really improve outcomes for learners and will judge changes by that test alone.
“Getting the Apprenticeship Levy fit-for-purpose is a challenge for governments across the UK. This survey suggests it will need a genuine change of direction at UK level to give the Scottish Government time to make the reforms necessary for success.
“Nine months out from the planned start date for the levy businesses lack vital information - the new administration at Westminster needs to work closely with the Scottish Government to get this right.”