Industry Advisory Group for rUK Talent Attraction minutes October 2023

Minutes from the meeting of the group held on 11 October 2023.

Attendees and apologies


  • Justin Black, Hays Recruitment
  • Craig Clark, University of Strathclyde
  • Mark Cowan, Scottish Leather Group
  • Steven Grier, Microsoft
  • Colin Halpin, Barclays Group
  • Gordon McGuiness, SDS
  • Karen Meechan, ScotlandIS
  • Linda Spence, TalentScotland
  • Laura Suarez, TalentScotland
  • Lloyd Vaughan, Nile

SG Officials

  • Chair, Adam Reid, Deputy Director Skills Division
  • Carron Flockhart, Unit Head International Higher Education and Talent Attraction
  • Lisa Buchan, Team Leader Skills Talent Attraction and Retention Team
  • Gillian McPhie, Policy Officer Skills Talent Attraction and Retention Team
  • Steve Banks, Strategy and Insights Lead, Communications
  • Samantha Crawford, Senior Marketing Manager, Communications
  • Kim Wallace, Marketing Team Leader, Communications
  • Niccolo Rossi, Intern, Communications
  • Colin Carroll, Team Leader, PAM: Citizens’ Rights


  • Shona Darroch, Diodes
  • Emma Harcus, Scottish Enterprise
  • Greig Rooney, Valneva
  • Ross Tuffee, Iceberg Tech
  • Morag Watson, Scottish Renewables

Items and actions

Welcome and overview of progress

Welcome extended.

Comments and approval of the previous meeting minutes was invited, and the minutes were approved.

Introduction from Chair and an overview of the skills landscape.

Review of progress

Lisa provided an update on progress of actions, continuing talent attraction work and highlighted that this was a chance to do a stock take on progress and set next steps.

Discussion around Withers Review with an overview of the recommendations provided by the Chair and further detail will be provided to the group in due course

Roundtable: introduction by members and contribution on their sector

Members gave an overview of their sector- challenges, opportunities, most in demand job roles and roles with specific skill shortages.

Common themes included

AI is both an opportunity and a threat- creating jobs but also making some current roles redundant. It is a driver of investment in Scotland. There needs to be well thought-out transition plans in place. Staff need to be upskilled in tandem as new technology is introduced.

Visas, which are a reserved matter, was a main barrier for all members, particularly for recruitment in more rural areas. Complexity of immigration system. Regional visas would be helpful. SG has submitted a Rural Visa Pilot proposal and await response from the Home Secretary.

Accommodation, housing, childcare, and physical and digital connectivity are top barriers for people moving to Scotland- general infrastructure needs upgrading to meet demands.

Supply and growth of talent remains difficult across sectors.

Development/sales, marketing and relationship-based roles are most in demand.

Tech skills such as Java/Ruby at all levels are needed across many sectors.

Brexit is still having a detrimental impact on recruitment for many businesses.

IT and STEM related jobs remain the most challenging positions to fill.

Members found the SFC graduate apprenticeships very beneficial.

An overview of the International Benchmark survey was given, highlighting key trends and responses in both the talent and company surveys. The Scottish Government, in collaboration with TalentScotland and Universities Scotland were invited to take part and contribute to an International Benchmark Study for Talent Attraction and Retention.

The survey was aimed at companies who are currently recruiting or are in need of recruiting international talent - covered eight countries including Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, The Netherlands, Germany, Spain (Basque) and Scotland.

The outcome of the benchmark study of Scottish companies recruiting international graduates/employees is aimed at gaining evidence to support employers to retain international employees. The survey closed on 30 September 2023. Next steps include analysis of the data.

An update on the Talent Attraction and Migration Service (TAMS) was provided to the group.

An overview of the RBS report on jobs was provided highlighting keys trends in Scotland and rUK as well as remote working.

Summary includes

  • the volume of direct job adverts has dropped 13% vs 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
  • after running this for the last 2 session between 13% and 15% of all applications that Hays Scotland receives are from other parts of the UK with London being 30% of those applications
  • remote jobs make up 11% of jobs advertised in the last 3 months. 3% Less than previous quarter

A presentation on Talent Attraction campaigns in Scotland and other countries was given by Marketing and Insights team.

Key actions

Develop a paper on the current landscape for the key sectors represented in this group to be used to inform next steps for talent attraction as well as communicate across SG.

Identify opportunities for the IAG to support the content development of TAMS at the appropriate time.

Presentations from today’s meeting to be circulated to members for further feedback.

Final Remarks, Any Other Business, Meeting Close

Members were thanked for their contributions.

The next meeting date is still to be confirmed and members will be contacted in due course.

Back to top