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A rich talent pool will ensure Scotland remains competitive

OVERALL business in Edinburgh and Scotland continues to benefit from a rich pool of talent.

It is no coincidence that Edinburgh is second to London in average gross earnings per resident. Edinburgh is a leading European city in terms of providing one of the most highly educated work forces. Working age residents educated to degree level or above in Edinburgh now stands at 42 per cent.

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This growing pool of talent is a critical success factor in attracting and retaining leading global brands as well as a thriving business community for business start-ups. Scotland's international reach is growing as we continue to expand in new markets and business sectors.

Ensuring education providers understand the changing skills needs and strategic focus of the business community is key, particularly as competition in attracting and retaining talent continues to grow geographically.

At Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce, our strategic partnerships within higher and further education establishments are helping bring business and education even more closely together. Our Economic Development Groups on Digital, Tourism and Infrastructure all have "talent" as a key enabler to deliver sustainable growth.

We must also ensure that businesses view training and development as an investment rather than a cost. Too often these budgets fall victim to savings targets in annual budget processes.

Scotland offers unique and special relationships between the public and private sectors regarding education and business support. Ensuring we continue to share best practice is essential to optimising value and effectiveness.

There is a plethora of short and long term training opportunities for employees at all levels and developments in technology are improving opportunities to access affordable and effective training.

It should not only be our top sports stars who are openly proud to explain how many coaches they have! We need to see more ongoing development initiatives as we strive to develop the best leaders in the future.

We must also challenge ourselves to ensure our talent is fit to compete in a global market. This includes learning new languages and building knowledge and expertise in doing business overseas. In Edinburgh and Scotland, we have every reason to be proud of our track record. As the business world becomes even more digitally connected, labour more mobile and our competitors grow in confidence; we must ensure we set even higher standards across all levels of business.

The quality of talent has been fundamental to our success in the past and will continue to be a key differentiator in the future.

David Birrell is chief executive at Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce

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