Glasgow has one of the highest student retention rates in the UK, according to the Centre for Cities, with almost half of people who study in the city staying for work after graduation.
Unfortunately, other areas of Scotland aren’t so lucky, and are accustomed to losing skilled workers. This is particularly the case in more rural areas of the country, such as the Highlands, where a lack of opportunities pushes graduates away to larger cities such as Edinburgh, Glasgow and London.
Once people have got their degree, they are 10 per cent more likely to move away from where they grew up than those who didn’t attend university, according to a recent report from The Institute for Fiscal Studies.
This “brain drain” means that large parts of Scotland are losing out on talent, taking connections and economic clout with them.
This is resulting in skills shortages. The Open University Business Barometer recently found that 86 per cent of Scottish companies have struggled to find skilled workers over the last year.
However, with hybrid working becoming more commonplace, Scotland is rapidly becoming a more appealing option for skilled workers from the rest of the UK, according to our research with the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR).
Giving people more choice about where and how they work opens the door for more opportunity, and builds a more diverse, inclusive workforce.
They are more likely to remain where they grew up or move to more remote areas of the country, where they can inject skills and money into local economies outside of Scotland’s biggest cities.
The CEBR’s analysis shows an interesting spike in people wanting to move to areas with a lower population density and more green space. Scotland is the most desired region, ahead of Wales and the South-west of England.
Based on analysis of employees who indicated a willingness to relocate thanks to remote working, the CEBR has calculated that Scotland could see an influx of 238,000 employees.
These people would bring vital skills and income to the country – leading to a £7.1 million injection into the Scottish economy, the highest economic uplift out of any region surveyed.
This is likely because Scottish organisations and employees are embracing hybrid working more than any other region in the UK. It has the highest number of days per week spent working remotely with employees working, on average, 2.8 days a week from home – a rise of 254 per cent since before the pandemic.
And this is having a positive impact on Scots’ wellbeing. On average, Scottish respondents enjoyed an average additional 1.7 hours of leisure time a day when working remotely, offering them greater control over their work/life balance, and more freedom to exercise, relax, or spend time with family.
Hybrid working is also helping to move around 22,000 civil service jobs out of London – a development that’ll be welcomed by many of those in Scotland who want to see more key public sector roles available to those outside of England’s capital.
It’s clear that investment in hybrid working solutions must be a focus for business-leaders to boost the Scottish economy and attract and retain top talent to the area.