Scotch Whisky, Skilled Workforce Report 2016

17 Mar 2016

Executive Summary

The Scotch Whisky industry is committed to its employees and invests in its workforce. Some 96% of Scotch Whisky companies provide training to employees, compared to the national average of 71%. There are good relationships with the broad education sector to facilitate recruitment, the training offer for staff once recruited is strong, both in-house through Modern Apprenticeships, and there is close engagement with other academic and professional institutions to develop skills further.

Key findings

  • The Scotch Whisky industry is committed to its employees and invests in its workforce.
  • 96% of Scotch Whisky companies provide training to employees, compared to the national average of 71%.
  • 78% of companies do not face any general recruitment issues.
  • There is an engineering shortage affecting many industries across Scotland, including Scotch Whisky.
  • The industry engages well with schools focussing on the diverse roles and opportunities available in the industry.
  • Modern Apprenticeships and in-house apprenticeships are offered by Scotch Whisky companies.
  • The Scotch Whisky industry will support the Scottish Government's skills strategy.

Looking forward, the picture is encouraging but not without challenges. The Scotch Whisky industry will need skills in engineering and project management, sales and marketing, demand forecasting/market research, branding, trade/ export and languages, and high-level management capabilities.

The industry can develop most of these skills itself, but there are particular difficulties in engineering and in management, where there are insufficient qualified staff. There is strong competition from other industries (though the contraction of the oil and gas industry over the last year seems to have temporarily eased the situation), and where encouraging people to relocate in rural and relatively remote locations can be an issue. Partnership between industry and government to develop these skills will be needed, and it is important that government policy keeps Scotland an attractive and cost-competitive place to work and live. The Scotch Whisky Association is dedicated to continue to improve skills and training in the Scotch Whisky industry and we commit ourselves to the following actions to achieve this:

  • The SWA will conduct regular and focused surveys of the industry's skills and recruitment issues, and use them to inform the broader debate about developing skills in Scotland.
  • The SWA commits to highlight Modern Apprenticeships as a method of training and development to its member companies.
  • The SWA commits to promote on-line courses on the 'Introduction to Scotch Whisky' for new recruits in the industry and wider supply chain.
  • The SWA will forge a closer relationship with Skills Development Scotland and champion its Skills and Investment Plan and its 'World of Work' web page.
  • The SWA will work with the Scottish Government to promote the action plan within its 'Manufacturing Future for Scotland' strategy.