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Scottish businesses find it hardest to recruit new staff

Scottish firms are finding it harder to recruit new staff than any other part of the UK, new research has found.

An official survey of more than 10,000 businesses by the Office for National Statistics asked owners to set out whether they’d experienced any challenges in hiring new workers throughout August.

In Scotland, 29.1 per cent of businesses said they had found it difficult, the highest in the UK, and above the overall average of 23.3 per cent.

In Northern Ireland, 26 per cent experienced difficulties, while in Wales the figures was 26.6 per cent and in England 22.6 per cent.

The Scottish rate of those saying they had experienced no difficulties was the lowest in the UK, with just 41.5 per cent citing no issues.

The survey included responses from 1,259 businesses in Scotland.

Pamela Nash, chief executive of Scotland in Union, said:

“It’s a serious concern that Scottish businesses are finding it tougher than their UK counterparts to hire new employees.

“This has an impact on the economy, jobs, opportunities and on communities.

“It’s also a poor reflection on the SNP’s 16 years in government, over which time it has been in charge of, among other policy areas, education and skills.

“The nationalists have long been accused of having an anti-business mentality, and that appears to have been backed up by these statistics.

“They will have to explain to businesses why it’s harder here to find the staff they need than in any other part of the UK.

“Perhaps if the SNP government hadn’t been so distracted by independence for the last decade, hard-working businesses wouldn’t be facing these kinds of issues.”


The figures were published in the Office for National Statistics’ Business Insights and Conditions Survey, which can be viewed here.

The figures can be seen in tab 53 – recruitment difficulties.

It shows the following percentage of businesses which answered “yes” to the question: Did your business experience any difficulties recruiting employees in August 2023?

Scotland – 29.1 per cent

Northern Ireland – 26 per cent

Wales – 26.6 per cent

England – 22.6 per cent

South West – 25.3 per cent

South East – 24.4 per cent

London – 18.1 per cent

East of England – 22.7 per cent

West Midlands – 24 per cent

East Midlands – 24.8 per cent

Yorkshire and the Humber – 25.8 per cent

North West – 24.1 per cent

North East – 26.5 per cent

UK – 23.3 per cent


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