Last updated: 17.04.13

Scottish firms seek better workplace education

Companies in Scotland are calling for business training that would improve standards of literacy and numeracy within their organisations.

Following the publication of the quarterly Skills Pulse Survey from the Scottish Chambers of Commerce yesterday (April 16th), it has been revealed that almost half of firms taking on new staff in the past year have struggled to find suitable candidates, the Scotsman reports.

As a result, more than 80 per cent of respondents would like to see better English and Maths skills in young people, while some are also rolling out school-style academic training themselves.

The survey further discovered nearly half (48 per cent) of companies questioned have formal plans in place to address their skills needs. Currently, the engineering sector is suffering from the biggest shortage, followed by energy-related jobs and sales and customer service.

Liz Cameron, chief executive of the Scottish Chambers of Commerce, said employers are looking for a basic level of literacy, numeracy and work readiness in all potential workers, adding: "[They] are happy to build on this foundation to support their employees."

Business leaders were also found to be concerned there is now a "gulf" between the education system and the workplace and are warning the Scottish Government's cuts to college budgets will harm training opportunities for young people.

Currently, more than three-quarters (79 per cent) said they feel applicants for job vacancies lack the skills required and this could worsen if the situation goes ignored.

It could be the case that more innovative learning infrastructures are required - both in educational institutions and the workplace - to bring people up to speed with the skills and qualifications they need to succeed in a particular role.

Online training is one way individuals could improve their employability, as there are a diverse range of internet-based modules and courses available from companies like Virtual College that can be accessed in people's spare time, which would help them to develop as employees without interfering with work tasks.