Chancellor Rishi Sunak has made clear it will not be possible for the Treasury to save every job destroyed by Covid-19.

Lifeline support in the form of the Coronavirus Jobs Retention Scheme comes to an end this month. Its replacements are welcome but mostly rely on employers having at least some work for employees to do. Those businesses that are not allowed to trade or for whom trade has collapsed in the wake of restrictions face a winter of despair.

If we cannot save every job, then our best option is to give people the skills to find and create new and sustainable jobs.

Even before the pandemic pounded the economy, businesses and workplaces faced dramatic disruption in the form of automation and digitalisation with clear need to provide skills and training to adapt the workforce and the businesses that employ them.

Mark Logan’s much lauded Scottish Technology Ecosystem review highlighted the lack of suitable education and support in areas of computing science and management as the leading factor undermining Scotland’s ability to produce a steady flow of world-class technology businesses. These will be essential to any economic recovery we can expect.

Ensuring that the nation’s workforce is ready for a digital future has never been more urgent and must be at the heart of any economic recovery plan.

This focus must also be across the entire workforce, including existing employees as well as young people embarking on their careers.

Much has been said about the need to support those between the age of 16-24 where the crisis has broken many of the links into employment.

The Scottish Government’s £100 million employment and training support package is aimed at those who are out of work or facing redundancy as well as a “job guarantee” for young people. The Youth Guarantee, which has been devised by the able Sandy Begbie, combined with the efforts of the local Chamber Network’s delivery of the well-established “Developing the Young Workforce Partnerships” promises that all in this age group will have the opportunity of work, education or training.

There was a further announcement of an additional £100m for so-called “green jobs”, and a commitment from the Scottish Government that their National Transitional Fund will enable people to take up digital skills training opportunities. Employers need to see further detail on this support and assurance that all sections of the workforce will benefit.

In England recent plans to target the needs for people of all ages to upskill was part of a raft of measures with Westminster announcing a Lifetime Skills Guarantee providing adults without A-levels or similar qualifications the opportunity to take fully-funded college courses. There is also funding for the college sector aimed at delivering flexibility in the form of part-time learning on the job and shorter-term programmes.

However, businesses remain to be convinced and would want assurances that this investment will be equally aimed at helping our current employees to retrain and upskill to help all businesses to adapt to these new horizons at the same time.

We know action must be swift. The need to understand and use technology is here now, in every aspect of our lives. The unstoppable growth of online sales, for example, has been turbo boosted by lock down shopping. Every size and sector of business aimed at consumers need to know how to sell online, how to load up and process orders, from logistics to getting payments through quickly.

Rebuilding the economy in the wake of the pandemic is one of the greatest challenges facing government, industry, and society. Ensuring that we deliver the opportunities to learn and take up skills, whether they be digital or for ‘green jobs’ is key. The future of employment in Scotland hangs in the balance.

Liz Cameron is the chief executive of the Scottish Chambers of Commerce