Welcome for news that Scotland’s skills gap is narrowing

Scotland’s skills gap has narrowed over the past three years as measures to train the workforce bear fruit, a new survey has claimed.

Yesterday’s report by the Alliance of Sector Skills Councils in Scotland, a body which acts as the voice of employers in the skills system, showed that 15 per cent of businesses had a skills gap, down from 20 per cent in 2008.

A business is judged to have a gap when at least one employee lacks the necessary skills to carry out their role with full proficiency.

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The alliance’s director, Jacqui Hepburn, said the news was welcome and suggests the Scottish Government’s skills strategy was making progress in addressing the needs of the workforce.

“However, there remain challenges ahead, especially given the current economic climate, with some sectors experiencing relatively large skills gaps which need to be addressed,” she said.

“We also need to ensure our young people are prepared for the world of work, which we are assisting in doing through ensuring they are being made aware of the opportunities on offer and equipping them with the skills required.”

She said the report also emphasised the need for continuing investment to “up-skill” the existing workforce, particularly with softer skills such as organisation and problem-solving where skills gaps were most commonly identified.

The report shows some industries are addressing the skills challenge better than others. In the creative industries, a sector which is anticipated to generate a substantial number of new jobs, only about 6 per cent of employers reported having identified staff with specific skills gaps.

But the proportion of employers complaining of skills gaps in their workforce rose to 21 per cent in the food and drink sector, while in finance, accounting and financial services the rate was 19 per cent.