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Best strategies in skills utilisation


The main objectives of this study were to identify examples of good practice in skills utilisation among Scottish businesses. The report provides examples of Scottish businesses that are seeking to maximise the potential of their staff and identifies the means through which they are doing so and the impacts that it has had on their organisational performance.


A review of the literature surrounding skills utilisation was undertaken before a case study approach was adopted to explore the motivation of firms, the activities that they pursued and the benefits that arose. The case study firms were drawn from the six key sectors identified in the Government's Economic Strategy: creative industries, energy, financial and business services, food and drink, life sciences and tourism and construction.


The term ‘skills utilisation’ is not one that is easily recognised by management or staff of the businesses although all of the actual practices were well understood and used by the businesses. Exactly when and why businesses decided to implement high performance working practices varied across the case studies. The key drivers behind the implementation of skills utilisation practices come from both the culture and values of senior managers, and as a response to market forces. The case studies have shown that there is a wide range of practices undertaken by businesses: appraisal systems and regular communications about the firm are the most common practices; and there is more frequent reporting of employee involvement and getting the HR practices right than of reward and commitment practices. The case study firms were clear that such practices make an important contribution to the performance of their business. This study backs up the findings of previous research that there is no single practice that, if implemented, will see company performance increase. For many businesses it makes sense to introduce practices gradually, on a case by case basis to address specific issues as they face the business. There is also a common message from the case studies that the success of the individual approaches is strongly influenced by the environment into which they are introduced.


No specific recommendations were made but a number of lessons for the successful utilisation of skills were drawn, such as the need for widespread recognition of the importance of management and leadership skills, and good communications within the firm.

Author SQW Consulting
Published Year 2010
Report Type Research
  • Labour Market and Skills
    Skills Development