Workers across Scotland exhibit the highest levels of career confidence in the UK, leading to increased expectations for pay rises.

This finding is part of the latest Robert Half Jobs Confidence Index (JCI), an economic confidence tracker produced in collaboration with the Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr).

According to the data, 69% of Scottish workers are optimistic about their job prospects over the next six months, surpassing the national average of 60%. This marks the highest level of confidence recorded across the UK. Similarly, 61% of Scottish employees feel positive about their career potential and ability to progress in the next five years, indicating strong long-term career confidence.

Pay Confidence on the Rise

This career optimism is reflected in pay rise expectations. Scottish workers anticipate an average pay increase of 5.2% in the coming year, significantly higher than the national average of 3.8%. This positions Scotland’s pay inflation expectations second only to London, where a 5.6% pay rise is expected.

Reggie McMahon, Branch Director for Scotland at Robert Half, commented on the findings: “Business growth prospects across Scotland are high, largely driven by fast-growth sectors such as renewables and technology. This is arguably one of the core drivers of the high level of confidence being seen in the labour market compared to the rest of the UK. However, it’s no secret that some of our largest sectors are also those that are facing significant skills shortages. When we combine this with the high confidence levels in the workforce, it’s perhaps no surprise that Scottish staff are looking for greater pay rises than the majority of the UK.”

Balancing Salary Expectations and Business Feasibility

McMahon also highlighted the challenges businesses face in meeting these pay rise expectations: “For firms across the country, though, salary increases on this scale aren’t going to be feasible, particularly for the large number of SME businesses that underpin our economy. To combat this scenario, a more robust talent attraction package that showcases more than just pay prospects is required. Offering additional perks and benefits packages or clear training options, for example, will appeal to new recruits and existing staff. Those employers that strike the right balance will be best placed to hire core skills in the months ahead.”

The high levels of career confidence and pay rise expectations among Scottish workers highlight the evolving dynamics in the region’s labour market. As sectors like renewables and technology continue to drive economic growth, the need for skilled workers will become increasingly critical. Employers will need to adapt by offering comprehensive talent attraction packages that go beyond salary to include benefits, training, and career development opportunities.

With significant skills shortages in some of Scotland’s largest sectors, businesses must innovate to attract and retain talent. This includes investing in training programs to upskill existing employees and offering clear career progression paths. By doing so, companies can ensure they have the skilled workforce needed to sustain growth and remain competitive.