By Richard Steele


If I were to sum up the Scottish employment industry in one word, it would be “agile”.

We are currently experiencing a high level of vacancies across multiple industries and sectors. This, combined with low levels of unemployment, and a shortage of workers means it’s a difficult time for businesses to fill the gaps.

The recruitment industry is resilient and loves a challenge. We are constantly analysing the market, predicting future trends and adapting accordingly. The industry is agile, meaning we can deliver the best results for firms and support the country’s widespread talent.

Current trends

In the wake of Covid, the employment market has transitioned into a candidate-driven market. As recruiters, we have transitioned too. Businesses are having to find ways to attract talent that do not just focus on higher salaries. Candidates are now putting a bigger emphasis on the importance of company culture, corporate wellness schemes, and the freedom to focus on external charity work. We also can’t ignore the cost-of- living crisis. Businesses need to offer competitive packages – pensions, increased holidays, attractive bonus schemes – as well as flexible working from home options.

More frequently, we are seeing

a desire to return to the office, particularly within the graduate market, where training and development are at the forefront. Further up the chain, candidates want a hybrid working arrangement, as opposed to being entirely office or home based.

With regards to the consumer goods market, we’ve seen a lack of young talent and graduates joining certain areas within the industry but, generally, recruitment within the food and drink industries is extremely busy. Businesses are responding to complex issues around Covid-19 and Brexit and areas such as supply chain are a particular focus for recruiters, with businesses looking to improve efficiency and performance.

Future predictions?

The agility of the recruitment industry will continue to be tested. Difficulties in recruiting high-calibre candidates will remain and businesses will continue facing rising concerns about inflationary pressures. Supply chain issues will remain largely because of future increases in energy costs. Over the next 12 months, we can expect this to affect cash flow, employment and, as a consumer, market prices.

We have also been experiencing a huge surge in employment within the digital sector and this surge is here to stay. More than 13 per cent of Scottish employees are working in the Fintech, digital and IT sectors and we are expecting this to rise to 20% by 2030.

These industries will continue to be more attractive to candidates at all levels and this will affect the food and drink manufacturers. As recruiters, we will need to continue working with our consumer goods clients to create packages that will attract talent to their sector.

We will see businesses creating new ways to encourage applications including financial support for employees looking to further their education, rent contributions and bonuses increasing from annual payments to twice a year.

Businesses and recruitment firms will need to carry on being innovative with their offering to stand out in a competitive market.

We are living through an uncertain time, but Alexander Steele is proud to partner with professionals and businesses within the consumer goods industry.

Richard Steele is managing director of Alexander Steele Recruitment, an Edinburgh-based specialist focusing on the manufacturing and heavy industry sectors.