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CBI says growth should work for everyone

Young to gain as Scottish firms hire more apprentices and graduates

Hugh AitkenYoung people are expected to be the big winners as Scottish firms plan to take on more apprentices and graduates this year.

Half of respondents to a CBI/Accenture survey also said they were looking to hire more permanent rather than temporary staff.

The survey 90 businesses in Scotland found that 60% expect their workforce to grow over the next year with 51% likely to take on more apprentices and 47% looking to recruit a higher number of graduates.

Almost every company – 93% – anticipates having roles suitable for young people aged 16-24. There was also good news on pay as 43% of firms said they were planning a rise in wages in line with inflation. There has been a small increase in the proportion of companies expecting to pay above the retail prices index compared with last year – 12% in 2014 compared to 7% in 2013.

But there was a warning that skills shortage still hampered the workforce. Low level of skills (63%), closely followed by the burden of employment regulation (61%) are seen as the greatest workforce threats to UK competitiveness. More htan half of respondents(54%)  believe this will still be the case in five years’ time.

Hugh Aitken, director of CBI Scotland (pictured), said firms in Scotland were looking ahead positively. “Young people should find more chances to get a foot on the career ladder this year, with many firms looking to boost their intake of graduates and apprentices.

“We want to see everyone enjoy the rewards of the recovery and Scotland has a big role in driving the UK economy forward. Growth should work for everyone, and skills are the key route to ensuring that this happens through improved productivity and pay.”

Bill McDonald, managing director of Accenture Scotland, said: “It’s important that growth works for everyone, which means regions throughout the UK benefitting from the economic recovery and employers opening up different and more inclusive routes into their workforces.

“It’s very encouraging to hear that businesses in Scotland are planning to build their workforces in the future by taking on more young people, including apprentices.

“It is also good to note that, within this mix, companies are recognising that they can enhance their competitiveness by harnessing the digital capabilities of these young people.”

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