The Latest Hiring Trends and Insights in the Scottish Job Market

It’s not fun to think about, but the country’s job market is currently tilted in favour of employers, making it more of a buyer’s market and more of a headache for jobseekers. According to data from the Office for National Statistics, Scotland’s unemployment rate stood at 3.5% in the three months to February 2023, slightly above the UK average of 3.3%. It’s creating a more competitive landscape, and you’ve likely heard people online talking about the state of the hiring process right now. There are complaints of employers asking for tasks that take hours as part of the application, stealing ideas and not hiring the person who came up with them, and general ghosting and bad etiquette.  

So, how is this affecting hiring trends in Scotland? We explore here.

What skills are in demand?

It might surprise you to know, given Scotland’s reputation of being a country full of farms and fields and whiskey, but digital and tech skills are among the top most desired skills. Skills like programming, data analysis, cybersecurity, AI/machine learning, cloud computing, and digital marketing are highly valued across many industries in Scotland. Employers seek candidates proficient in tools like Python, SQL, Tableau, AWS, etc. Perhaps more in rural areas where these skills are typically lacking in the community.

Folded in with that is data analysis and data science, as the ability to collect, analyse and derive insights from large datasets is a prized skill.

Additionally, with more businesses undertaking digital transformation and change initiatives, skilled project managers are in high demand to plan, execute, and deliver complex projects successfully. Certifications like PMP and PRINCE2 are widely recognized.

The list also includes financial and accounting experience, healthcare and medical skills, green and renewable energy skills, and skilled tradespeople like electricians and plumbers.

Are there any hiring challenges?

There are a few emerging challenges in the Scottish job market and the hiring trends in various industries, such as skill shortages. A lot of employers are trying to solve this problem by simply training employees they currently have, which is further shrinking the job market. Or they are partnering with universities and colleges to cultivate more talent pipelines.

Another challenge, as a knock-on effect, is competition for talent. Employers face stiff competition when trying to attract top talent, especially from the Central Belt. Employers try to curb this problem with strategies like offering competitive compensation and benefits packages, highlighting company culture and opportunities for growth, and effectively leveraging employee referral programs.

And finally, getting talent and keeping talent are two different problems. There was a trend for a while during the aftermath of lockdowns, of people, whether rightly or wrongly, quitting their jobs in somewhat of a protest to bad management and work environment. Resignations are still on the rise, so employers have to remember to focus on employee engagement. In the work/home/hybrid workplace debate, it’s important to remember that this is a coveted option for jobseekers today, to retain employees. You can also keep them engaged in work with learning and development opportunities and offering progression pathways in their career.

What can you do?

As a job seeker, this can be incredibly infuriating. It can be frustrating being stuck in a job you don’t want anymore and can’t see a way out. Some practical steps you can take are to be very targeted in your job search, hone relevant skills, and stand out in an applicant pool. Competition is stiff for many desirable roles and you might need to be flexible on compensation expectations as well.


It’s a difficult space for jobseekers today with these hiring trends causing more challenges down the line. Our best advice would be to cater to the current market. Take a look at what the market is demanding in Scotland and plan accordingly. If that means retraining where you are, getting extra qualifications, or readdressing expected salary. It’s not fun, but the best way to get out.

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