David Birrell: Adapting Edinburgh will stay ahead

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Edinburgh has a rich talent pool that provides the solid foundations for the city’s strength in many business sectors currently contributing to over 307,000 jobs in Edinburgh.

As well as being key to driving our competitive edge, nurturing this talent is essential for further sustainable, profitable growth. A skilled, educated and adaptable workforce is also essential in attracting internal UK investment as well as from overseas. Our success in attracting even more inward investment is expected to continue.

In 2013, Scotland was ranked 19th for productivity levels amongst 32 Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries. As the capital city, Edinburgh’s performance is key to this. Improving productivity must continue to be a priority for government and the private sector.

Part of this effort is a greater focus on leadership development and effective skills utilisation. Investment by government in programmes such as flexible training opportunities is essential. Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce delivers two programmes – Transformational Business Leadership and Management Essentials, as well as over 40 open training courses.

Other routes are through colleges and universities who continue to develop programmes for the wider business community. At Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce, we continue to grow our strategic partnerships with universities and colleges who have excellent resources to provide support for all types of businesses.

The stakes are evolving rapidly and our ability to adapt could be at risk of falling behind. With an entire generation which was “born digital”, it is essential that organisations in every sector become more fluent in these forms of communication.

Unsurprisingly, training and development has grown exponentially in this area to ensure a more engaged and productive workforce as well as drive innovative and efficient processes.

Investing in other so-called “soft-skills” such as client relationship management and the ability to connect with people remains crucial as is the ability to influence and ask the right questions. The development of and demand for new training programmes on social intelligence, creativity and working in virtual teams are just a few examples of the desire to continually innovate and invest in skills for our future.

Although there is no guarantee that the skills we develop will lead to economic success, Edinburgh’s business community has demonstrated in the past that it has the capability to lead change and to develop partnerships with the education sector even further.

David Birrell is chief executive of Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce