The Scottish Government has raised continuing recruitment challenges in the agriculture sector, despite record employment figures.

Early seasonally adjusted estimates for October 2023 from HMRC Pay As You Earn Real Time Information indicate that there were 2.45 million payrolled employees in Scotland, up 0.9 percent (23,000) compared with October 2022. This compares with the UK where the number of payrolled employees had risen by 1.3 per cent over the same period.

Scottish Government Wellbeing Economy Secretary Neil Gray said: “It’s welcome that the latest HMRC early estimates show the highest number of payrolled employees in Scotland since the series began.

“ONS adjusted experimental estimates show that the employment, unemployment, and economic inactivity rates for Scotland for July to September 2023 are relatively unchanged over the quarter.

“In the face of ongoing challenges to the labour market, such as Brexit, the Scottish Government is committed to using its limited powers to support more people into work through employability and skills support.

“We have committed to expanding Scotland’s provision of fully funded childcare, which is already the most generous childcare package in the UK, which can support more parents, and those with caring responsibilities, into work.

“The Scottish Government is also developing a lifetime skills offer for adults and our apprenticeship programme is enabling employers to invest in their workforce and provide greater opportunities to those at the start of their careers. This will sit alongside a Green Industrial Strategy which will help businesses and investors to realise the enormous economic opportunities of the global transition to net zero and create good, well-paid green jobs across Scotland.

“However with industries such as hospitality and agriculture still facing enormous recruitment challenges, an urgent reassessment of UK Government immigration policy is needed to increase access to the international labour market that Scotland needs for our economy to prosper.

“With full powers over migration, Scotland could boost its workforce and tackle recruitment challenges, many of which have been caused by the end of free movement and the Brexit imposed on Scotland by the UK Government.”