Industry Advisory Group for rUK Talent Attraction minutes: May 2023

Minutes from the meeting of the group held on 16 May 2023.

Attendees and apologies

  • Justin Black, Hays Recruitment
  • Marion Beattie, Skills Development Scotland
  • Steven Grier, Microsoft
  • Linda Spence, TalentScotland
  • Ross Tuffee, Iceberg Tech
  • Morag Watson, Scottish Renewables
  • Emma Harcus, Scottish Enterprise
  • Karen Meechan, ScotlandIS

Scottish Government officials

  • (Chair) Lisa Buchan, Team Leader, Skills, Talent Attraction and Retention Team
  • Carron Flockhart, Unit Head, Future Skills Strategy
  • Elaine Park, Senior Policy Officer, Skills, Talent Attraction and Retention Team
  • Lisa Young, Policy Officer, Skills, Talent Attraction and Retention Team
  • Gillian McPhie, Policy Officer, Skills, Talent Attraction and Retention Team
  • Sarah Ormerod, Population Programme Strategic Communications Lead
  • Scott Mcclelland, Policy Manager, Space and Aerospace, Defence and Marine
  • John Mooney, Head of Veterans Unit
  • Paul Hood, Deputy Head of Veterans Unit


  • Shona Artale, Q2 Solutions
  • Shona Darroch, Diodes
  • Craig Clark, Space Scotland
  • Mark Cowan, Scottish Leather Group
  • Colin Halpin, Barclays Group
  • Gordon McGuiness, SDS
  • Greig Rooney, Valneva
  • Lloyd Vaughan, Nile

Items and actions

Welcome and apologies

Welcome extended and apologies noted.

Further to Ministerial appointments, the Minister for Higher and Further Education and Minister for Veterans, Graeme Dey MSP, will have portfolio responsibility for attracting and retaining skilled workers from outside of Scotland. An update will be provided before the next meeting on the Minister’s role in terms of supporting the Industry Advisory Group (IAG).

Progress on actions and summary of discussion from previous meetings

The Chair invited comment and approval of previous meeting minutes.

Minutes were approved.

The actions, circulated with the papers, were updated as part of the following agenda items.

Communications team update

Presentation by Brand Scotland

A presentation was given on the recruitment toolkit that has been developed with input from the IAG with examples of how it can be adapted for each sector through inclusion of sector specific messaging.

Feedback on the recruitment toolkit included:

  • toolkit was positively received from members.
  • ensuring that the target audiences are catered for is vital,
  • opportunities for relocating outside the central belt should be highlighted alongside messaging on accessibility and connectivity between rural areas and cities.
  • toolkit should include reference/links to information on career paths for specific sectors on the TalentScotland website
  • information on founding your business in Scotland could be included in support of the National Strategy for Economic Transformation’s ambitions to increase entrepreneurial skills.
  • signposting to jobs for additional family members could be considered.
  • messaging around Scotland’s commitment and approach to net zero and biodiversity could also be included.

Brand Scotland highlighted that the toolkit can be adapted to demonstrate the recruiting company brand, city brand and sector brand and could include the specific skills that are needed by an individual sector or employer.

Existing pools of talent

An overview of the work the Veterans unit are engaged in and key statistics on Veterans was provided. A toolkit, the Veterans strategy, and the SCQFP mapping are examples of the support available to Veterans. The transferability of Veterans’ skills was highlighted as being particularly suited to the Space and Aerospace sectors. Discussion took place on veterans’ unemployment levels and information on the Armed Force covenant.

Discussion on the timing of support for veterans took place including how crucial it is that support is in place from the point of service ending. Examples were shared of companies who are doing excellent work hiring veterans and of incentives for employers, including a training budget attached to the person.

Data update

Around 20k jobs have been advertised in this quarter which was slightly lower than the last quarter. The decrease may have been due to a high number of public holidays in in April and May. There has been a 26-week contraction in adverts and gaps for specific skill sets remains. Applications in the last quarter: approximately 25% are from rUK, mostly London. Top roles advertised include nurses and delivery drivers. Remote working is on a downward trend compared to last quarter.

To summarise

  • the volume of direct job adverts has dropped 10% on last quarter stats.
  • the Macro-economic environment is still causing candidates to be wary.
  • talent shortages are still acute.
  • Tech, Medical, Construction and Finance are still industries that have a large demand but are subdued compared to last year.
  • between 13% and 15% of all applications Hays Scotland receives are from other parts of the UK and 30% of those are from London.
  • remote jobs make up 11% of jobs advertised in the last three months: 3% Less than previous quarter.

Space proposal discussion

An overview was presented on the current developments in the Space and associated sectors. These are rapidly growing sectors with inward investment increasing significantly. A Space debate took place recently in Parliament, showcasing all the work going in the sector. For example, Mangata is investing in Prestwick, where over five hundred jobs are being created in the next few years. Brexit has caused some issues in attracting talent from Europe, with acquiring costs sitting at around £30k. It was highlighted that younger people can be put off working in the sector due to the perception of negative climate effects.

The Talent Attraction proposal was presented and one of the actions highlighted is to build on the recruitment toolkit to incorporate sector specific messaging. Activities will also include marketing leading up to and after the launch in November in Shetland, careers fairs, a mentoring programme and highlighting case studies.

TalentScotland raised awareness that a Space page has recently gone live on their website to highlight the innovation happening in the sector, opportunities to work and invest in Space and showcases sectors and regions with related activity. This can be used to encourage research and development investment in Scotland.

The need to take stock of what is currently happening in this space is necessary to ensure there is a coherent approach.

There is a need to dispel the myth that all people who work in the space sector are ‘super techie’ and highly qualified. There is a need to simplify the messaging to highlight the transferable skills which can be used in the sector. A discussion followed on the train/deploy model and the workplace innovation scheme.

The importance of identifying the short, medium, and long-term strategies was reiterated and a project plan would support this.

A need for a representative from the Higher Education sector was raised. ScotlandIS described their involvement with Scottish Cluster Ecosystem Alliance (SCEA) and the work being undertaken in the Space sector. This, along with involvement in the work of the Migration Advisory Council on the shortage occupation list (MAC/SOL) are also important to note for this work.

A reminder of how the work of the IAG relates to the development of TAMS (Talent Attraction and Migration Service) was given.

Close of meeting, final remarks, any other business and date of next meeting

The Chair thanked members for their contributions and advised of the date of the next meeting would be confirmed as soon as possible.

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