Scotch Skills: Leading for Growth
03 Jun 2016
Our annual Members Day is an opportunity for the industry to
come together to discuss the pressing issues of the day and hear
perspectives from others.
I was pleased to moderate a panel discussion at this year's
event on industry skills that attracted a packed audience. It
built on the publication of our recent report Scotch Whisky,
Skilled Workforce setting out the industry's commitment to
developing its workforce's skills.
Industry skills are of real importance to the success of Scotch.
The continued growth of internationally recognised brands relies on
the world-class capabilities of our people, from procurement to
production and logistics to sales. And Scotch is a
significant employer, directly employing nearly 11,000 of the most
productive people in Scotland after the energy sector and they
drive over £5bn in value added to the UK economy.
A key focus of the lively discussion was the challenge of
developing strong leadership. Siobhan Moriarty, Diageo's Legal
Counsel felt that 'leadership exists where you find it and where
you develop it, not just at the top'. Diageo takes its own lead by
offering structured career development from Modern Apprenticeships
to its graduate development programme.
The panel agreed that the challenge of ensuring young people are
aware of the opportunities the industry offers remains high on
their to-do list. This means speaking more often and clearly about
our operations, about the jobs we offer and the contribution those
jobs make to communities. Anne Wexelstein, Director of Scotland
Career Ready, a charity which helps prepare young people for work,
added that the industry should not shy away from making its voice
heard. And a collective approach is helpful, to dial up the
Linda Hanna, MD Strategy & Sectors, Scottish Enterprise
focussed on productivity and competitiveness. Linda felt that
interventions underway to drive Scotland's productivity should have
a positive effect. And she saw a great outlook for Scotch which was
ready and engaged to take leadership to the next level. She pointed
to Scandinavia where there is a focus on developing curious,
international mind-sets and where exemplar industries pioneer
innovative, fresh ways of working.
Our guests didn't shy away from discussing our challenges. Alan
Kilpatrick, MD of The North British Distillery said that with long
service and an aging workforce, understanding employee motivation
to achieve top performance is key. And with a shifting emphasis
towards 'how' we achieve results as well as 'what' we do, offering
good access to soft skills training remains important.
With the business case for workforce diversity made, Siobhan set
out Diageo's targeted approach. Having narrowly fallen short of a
goal that 30% of Diageo's leadership is female by 2015, they
sharpened their focus with a new target that by 2025, 40% of people
in leadership roles will be female. Efforts to get there
focus on areas where female employment has traditionally lagged
behind, such as production, supply chain and commercial
No discussion on skills can go without mention of Modern
Apprenticeships and the impending levy. Our panel and
audience all agreed we should look again at the value of Modern
Apprenticeships. Alan Kilpatrick's suggestion that in Scotland the
opportunity remains for businesses to work with the Scottish
Government to shape the scheme, was met with warm approval.
I closed the session feeling confident the industry has the
commitment and will to remain on top of our skills challenges. And
that good public and third sector support is on hand to keep the
industry's people and skills on track for further growth.
SWA Deputy Chief Executive & Director of Operational and