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Skills and education are key to improving productivity

Posted: 26th August 2015

It is well documented that the strength and depth of our talent pool in our Capital City and across many parts of Scotland provides us with a competitive edge in many business sectors. This provides us with the potential to grow both domestically and internationally and is a key criterion in attracting inward investment.

Productivity, competitiveness and resource efficiency are key drivers for delivering sustainable profitable growth. A skilled, educated and adaptable workforce is essential to improving our productivity across the country.  In 2013, Scotland was ranked 19th (out of 32 countries) for productivity levels amongst OECD countries. Improving this performance must continue to be a priority for government at all levels as well as for the private sector.

Part of this determined effort to increase performance levels is a greater focus on leadership development and effective skills utilisation. Investment by Government in programmes such as Flexible Training Opportunities is essential. These initiatives are often supported by organisations such as local Chambers of Commerce that are well placed to provide affordable and effective training and development particularly focussed on the SME sector.  Other routes for such leadership development are through Colleges and Universities who continue to develop programmes for the wider business community.

As a business community we must continually challenge whether we are ‘future-fit’. Where once we felt in control, the stakes are now evolving more rapidly than before and our ability to adapt could be at risk of falling behind. With an entire generation that were ‘born digital’ it is essential that the whole organisation becomes more fluent in digital and social media forms of communication.

This particular area of training and development has grown exponentially and will help support not only a more engaged and productive workforce but also drive innovation in business processes and more efficient ways of working. This includes the ability to effectively filter and focus on the key messages that are embedded in the vast amount of data that hits us in a relatively short span of time.

Supporting the training and development to keep up with the impact of new technologies is an ever increasing focus. Other so-called ‘soft-skills’ such as relationships and the ability to connect with people remain crucial as well as the ability to influence and ask the right questions. The development of and demand for new training programmes on social intelligence, creativity and working in virtual teams are just a few examples of the desire to continually innovate and invest in the appropriate skills for our future.

Although there is no guarantee that the skills we develop will lead to economic success, the Scottish business community has demonstrated in the past that we have the capability to lead change in many business sectors. With a strong talent base in situ, we have the potential to increase our international competitiveness.

Business Comment

Business Comment is the Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce’s bi-monthly magazine. It provides insight on Edinburgh’s vibrant business community, with features on the city’s key sectors, interviews with leading figures and news on new business developments in the capital.
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