Career focus: Scotland

A region by region look at working in HR in the UK. This month we look at
Scotland.  Edited by Ross Wigham e-mail:
[email protected]

Career in Scotland may be a breath of fresh air

Working life in Scotland is similar to the rest of the UK, with a diverse
mix of employers, occupations and industries. The recent economic situation has
followed a similar pattern to that in England.

Since official devolution in 1999, the country has had its own Parliament,
based in Edinburgh, as well as its ruling body, the Scottish Executive (SE).

Although economic, trade and industrial policies are still controlled by
Whitehall, the SE has a £20bn budget and extensive powers in education,
training and local government.

The Executive aims to ensure long-term sustainable economic growth and to
create an innovative business environment. It has also implemented a range of
policies to drive up skills and increase productivity levels.

The Labour Force Survey, from the Office for National Statistics (ONS),
suggests that both employment and unemployment were stable throughout the last

Data from the end of last year shows that the seasonally adjusted employment
rate was 74.2 per cent or 2.4 million people, up by 0.6 per cent compared to
the previous year. According to the figures, the unemployment rate has dropped
to 5.8 per cent, also a 0.6 per cent per fall from the same period in 2002.
However, it also reported that employee jobs had fallen by around 12,000,
although this figure was partly offset by rises in contract workers in
construction and other industries.

Alan Hogarth, a spokesman for CBI Scotland, said the economy was standing
firm, despite pressure and the continuing downturn in some sectors. He said the
financial sector played a big part in the economy of Scotland, with the Royal
Bank of Scotland and HBOS some of the biggest employers based there.

The retail sector is also a major employer and there is a large brewing
industry, with the traditional whisky market and large corporate firms such as
Scottish & Newcastle.

Tourism is also a fundamental part of the economy, and it could be set for a
further boost with experts predicting a growth in domestic travel because of
fears across global terrorism.

However, the once strong manufacturing sector continues to suffer job losses
and tight margins, as it has done across the rest of the UK.

"The manufacturing sector is still facing challenges. There have been a
lot of job losses but there is light at the end of the tunnel. Like other parts
of the UK, it’s suffered from cheaper labour overseas," said Hogarth.

A large number of the UK’s call centres are also based in Scotland, but
Hogarth said the quality and expertise of its operators had shielded the
industry from some of the problems suffered elsewhere across the UK. "The
sector is holding up because it has more high-value call centres that are less
vulnerable to offshoring," he said.

Earlier this month, the SE launched a drive to relocate public sector jobs
around Scotland, with many organisations reviewing the current locations.

It is hoped that this will offer more opportunities for people living
outside of the traditional business areas such as Edinburgh and Glasgow.

Living in the region

Education: The education system up to
secondary level in Scotland is independent of the rest of the UK and has
distinct differences at all levels. The Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA)
awards its Standard Grade (broadly similar to GCSEs) to pupils in their fourth
year of secondary school. After this scholars advance to Highers and then
Advanced Highers.

In tertiary education, there are 14 universities and 46 further
education colleges in the country. Around 54 per cent of Scots go on to
university (not all in Scotland) and they are joined by a large number of
students from the rest of the UK and overseas.

Transport: A major consultation on the future of transport in
Scotland has just been completed, but the picture across the country is mixed.
According to the Scottish Parliament the number of motor vehicles licensed in
2002 was more than 2.3 million, 3 per cent more than the previous year, and is
estimated to be about 27 per cent higher than the number in 1992  There were roughly 259,000 new vehicle
registrations in 2002, the highest number ever recorded. The total number of
rail passenger journeys was 62.2 million in 2002-2003, a 5 per cent drop.
Scotland also has good rail links with London, via the east coast of England,
as well as having several major airports including Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen
and Prestwick.

Culture/lifestyle: Scotland is the home of some of the UK’s
most outstanding areas of natural beauty. Edinburgh is also recognised as one
of the most historical cities with its famous castle and the Royal Mile. The
annual festival is one of the main dates on the European arts calendar while
Glasgow is a huge metropolitan city and former European capital of culture.

Housing: Although the market varies massively across the
country, nationwide research shows that prices have increased by 14 per cent in
the past 12 months. Currently the Edinburgh housing market is particularly
buoyant, while across Scotland as a whole the average price for a detached
house is around £135,767, with a semi-detached home costing around £93,739. The
average price for a flat is £65,048.

Company profile
Standard Life

Staff: 8,000
Based: Edinburgh

The financial services company has been based in the Scottish
capital for more than 178 years and is one of the city’s largest private
employers. Stephen McCafferty, the HR development director says it’s the best
place to work in the UK.

"It offers a really good lifestyle and that means people
want to stay," he said. "It’s also a very cosmopolitan city. There’s
a lot of history and culture to Edinburgh with the famous castle and the annual
festival. I also think people generally have a bit more time for you up here."

After working in various parts of the UK, McCafferty says
Scotland is the ideal location for business and a great place to start a career
in human resources.

"I spent four years in the South East and the
infrastructure here in Scotland is just as good. I’d definitely recommend a
career in HR here. Because the city is smaller than others and is actively
lived in, unlike the square mile in London, there is more of a community feeling
at work.

"We have a good atmosphere. People want to work here and
that helps our staff retention," he explained.

During the last few years McCafferty has noticed more people
opting out of the London rat-race to work in Scotland.

"It seems we do have people who are getting sick of the
lifestyle in London and other places and are moving up to Scotland," he

Move here for…


Completely different from the rest of the UK

Heritage and culture

Some of the UK’s most famous tourist spots

The fresh air

The rugged countryside is famous the world over

But beware of…

The food

Haggis and deep fried Mars bars may not be your idea of
culinary delights


You may encounter some problems moving to a colder climate

Being English

The rivalries between the two nations still run deep

HR contacts and local information

CIPD South East Scotland branch, [email protected]

CIPD West of Scotland branch, [email protected]

CIPD Mid Scotland branch, [email protected]

CIPD North of Scotland and Islands branch, [email protected]

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