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Scotland – the employer of choice?

14 February 2007
Scotland – the employer of choice?

Employers must tackle the challenge of attracting and retaining the best, says David Cochrane, chief executive, Hospitality Industry Trust Scotland

Scotland has been extremely effective at marketing itself to visitors, and recent figures show this is paying off, with tourists travelling north of the border up 14% compared with the national UK average of 8%. It would appear that we've been equally successful at attracting a new workforce from overseas too, but what do tourists make of our welcome when they get here?

I believe that as long as the welcome, service and cleanliness of a business are of the highest quality, then the lasting impression our visitors will leave with is that Scotland truly is a must-see, must-return destination. I've been served by multiple nationalities throughout Europe and rarely have I felt that the offering was not authentic, if delivered professionally.

But I do also believe that we must continue to develop and attract local Scottish talent too. We cannot, and must not, rely on a migrating workforce to deliver our quality standards on a consistent basis.

We have a wealth of home-grown talent, and this was brought home to me during the interviews for this year's HIT Scotland scholarships. Gatherings like the imminent ScotHot in Glasgow are also a great opportunity to recognise and celebrate what a dynamic industry we have.

They all highlight that we want to attract the best employees to deliver a world standard. But as employers, we must remember that the retention issues in our industry are not caused by the workforce, but by the workplace. If employment conditions are not right for our emerging talent, they will vote with their feet.

If we look at the challenge of attracting and retaining good people, we must address the issues holistically. Let's not close our eyes and ears to the benefits of international workers, the experience of mature entrants to our industry, the enthusiasm of our emerging talent, and the feedback from our increasingly demanding customers.

The shape of all employment is changing and your business needs robust systems to manage the pace and outcome of these changes. When the winds of change blow, some businesses build windbreaks, other businesses build windmills. What will your business build?

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