More than two thirds of firms in Scotland expect to struggle to fill highly-skilled roles, a survey says.
A total of 86% of businesses questioned for the CBI/Pearson education and skills survey said they were not confident about future recruitment.
A majority of companies (70%) said they believed they would need more people with leadership and management talent.
The Scottish government said it welcomed the findings and “the expected increase in job opportunities”.
The survey gathered views from 186 businesses across Scotland.
It found more than half the firms (54%) had increased their links with schools or colleges.
But many businesses reported dissatisfaction with educational standards of school or college leavers – with 26% concerned by literacy and 25% unhappy with the basic numeracy displayed.
The CBI said one key concern was the planned Apprenticeship Levy, which will be charged to UK employers to fund new apprenticeships.
More than two thirds of businesses operating in Scotland (67%) said they wanted “better clarity” between the UK and devolved governments as to how the system will work across the UK’s internal borders.
Neil Carberry, CBI director for employment and skills, said: “Getting the skills and education system right, as the Scottish government seeks to close the attainment gap, will remain a big challenge for ministers.
“There are very positive signs throughout the country with more businesses in Scotland supporting schools, offering careers advice and investing in workplace training – firms need to keep upping their game in this area.
“The recent announcement of an enterprise and skills review, coupled with the new national delivery plan for Scottish education are positive steps that show the Scottish government is alive to the challenges businesses face to recruit the right talent.”
Mr Carberry said getting the Apprenticeship Levy “fit for purpose” was “a challenge for governments across the UK”.
He added: “This survey suggests it will need a genuine change of direction at UK level to give the Scottish government time to make the reforms necessary for success.
“Nine months out from the planned start date for the levy, businesses lack vital information. The new administration at Westminster needs to work closely with the Scottish government to get this right.”
Jamie Hepburn, minister for employability and training, welcomed “the commitment from business to develop current and future talent”.
He said: “Skills and employability is a priority for the Scottish government and we are committed to developing the skills and talents of our people to support inclusive growth through increased productivity and innovation of all of our people.
“For example, Skills Development Scotland works closely with employers to develop sectoral and regional skills assessments which can help to identify future skills requirements, informing providers about future needs.”
Scottish Labour’s economy spokeswoman Jackie Baillie called on the Scottish government to invest in the education system to ensure that Scots were equipped for the “high skills, high wage jobs of the future”.
She added: “The SNP government also need to come forward with a comprehensive labour market strategy that is developed closely with employers and trade unions to identify and address the skills gaps which businesses point to in the survey.”
Original Source – BBC News.