Contracting in Edinburgh and Glasgow

Glasgow and Edinburgh are Scotland’s two largest cities and they are great places to visit, live, work and do business. They are amongst Europe’s most dynamic and modern cities, yet steeped in culture and history. The traditional friendliness and openness of the people ensures that all people who are new to the area are guaranteed a warm welcome.

The Edinburgh and Glasgow region is not only stunningly beautiful, it also has a growing economy and global reputation for cultural excellence. All of which makes it an irresistible place in which to live and work. Only 46 miles apart, or 50 minutes by train, and located in Scotland’s Central Belt, the two cities and their surrounding areas have a combined population of 3.2 million. They also have an established commitment to collaboration, aimed at enabling the two cities to compete more effectively on the world stage. And with countryside and coast in such easy reach, both offer a very high quality of life.

Edinburgh city region is located to the east of Scotland – linked northwards to Fife by the world-famous Forth Bridges and stretching south to the Scottish Borders. As Scotland’s capital, Edinburgh is home to the Scottish Parliament and many functions of the Scottish Government. As well as it's proven financial strengths, Edinburgh is Scotland’s primary tourist destination and leading city of science.

Glasgow is located to the west of Scotland on the River Clyde and is the country’s largest city, at the heart of one of the UK’s principal metropolitan areas. Its population is around £1.2m with a large catchment area that provides an easy commute for a further 500,000 people. It was recently voted as sixth in the Top 10 rankings for the Best City to Locate a Business Today, beating Edinburgh by two places!

For the latest IT vacancies in the area visit: Technojobs IT Jobs in Scotland.

Major companies

The job market in this area represents a compelling mixture of opportunity and job security, and over the past few years Edinburgh’s employment rates have reached an all-time high, surpassing those of any city in England. Edinburgh is ranked as the largest financial centre in the UK after London, with Royal Bank of Scotland, HBOS and Standard Life all having headquarters in the city.

In addition, Glasgow is a major centre for public administration, financial services, and tourism-related sectors and was rated as the best UK shopping centre outside the West End of London. At an overall level, the workforce in this region enjoys a reputation at the forefront of various sectors including science and technology, finance, tourism and the arts.

HBOS (now part of Lloyds Banking Group)

This is the holding company for Bank of Scotland plc, which operates the Bank of Scotland and Halifax brands in the UK, as well as HBOS Australia and HBOS Insurance & Investment Group Limited, the group's insurance division. It is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Lloyds Banking Group having been taken over in January 2009.

HBOS was formed by the 2001 merger of Halifax plc and the Governor and Company of the Bank of Scotland, creating a ‘fifth force’ in British banking alongside the Big Four UK retail banks. It is also the UK’s largest mortgage lender. It’s head office is located at The Mound in Edinburgh, the former head office of Bank of Scotland and Lloyds Banking Group has stated that the new group will continue to use this as the headquarters for its Scottish operations.

The Royal Bank of Scotland Group

This is one of the leading financial institutions in the world, employing thousands of people and serving around 40m customers across five continents – with 25m of those in the UK. The Group has three main service areas – insurance, business services and retail banking - and includes some of the UK's best known brands, such as Direct Line, NatWest, Churchill and The One Account.

RBS has its global head office in Edinburgh, along with other offices in London, Manchester, Leeds and Birmingham. It also has more than 2,000 branches across the UK. There are a wide range of opportunities available and for three years running it has been awarded a place in the ‘Where Women Want to Work’ Top 50.

Heineken UK (formerly Scottish & Newcastle)

Heineken UK is the UK's leading beer and cider business and is an operating company of Heineken N.V. (Netherlands), the world’s most international brewer. It was formed in April 2008 when Heineken NV acquired the UK business of Scottish & Newcastle PLC and it was integrated with Heineken’s existing UK business.

The company employs around 4,000 people and also has around 2,200 pubs throughout the UK. It's portfolio of brands includes Foster’s, Heineken, Strongbow, Kronenbourg 1664, John Smith’s and Bulmers together with a full range of niche and speciality brands. The company still has a large presence in Edinburgh, with its head office still based at the Broadway Park site in the city.

Standard Life

This is a leading international long term savings and investments company which includes one of the largest life and pension businesses in the UK, with more than 4 million customers. Established in 1825, it provides life assurance and pensions, investment management and healthcare insurance products to over 6.5 million customers worldwide, and has more than 10,000 employees around the world of which 8,500 are based in the UK.

ExxonMobil Chemical conducts business in more than 200 countries around the world and is one of the UK’s top 10 chemical companies in terms of turnover. It has supplied the UK market with gas for over 30 years, being responsible for approximately 10% of the UK's total oil and gas production. It has an interest in nearly 50 producing offshore fields and operates the largest refinery in the UK, which serves 1m retail customers every day and produces world-leading motor oils.

THUS plc (a Cable & Wireless business)

The business now called THUS began life in 1994 as Scottish Telecom, an offshoot of the privatised energy company Scottish Power. In 2002, THUS was demerged from Scottish Power in a deal which effectively wiped out the majority of the company's debts, placing the company on a sound financial footing. The demerger also led to the creation of THUS Group plc, a holding company which owned THUS plc. Cable & Wireless completed a takeover of THUS in October 2008, but its name is still retained. The company is based in Berkeley Square in Glasgow and employs around 1,800 people.

Major industries

  • Finance
  • Tourism
  • Public sector
  • Science and technology

Local newspapers

In Edinburgh, the most popular local paper is the daily Edinburgh Evening News whilst in Glasgow there is The Glaswegian and the Glasgow Evening Times. Both have very active and useful website's. Then of course at a national level there is The Scotsman, which also has a valuable jobs section on its website, and The Herald Scotland.

Typical rates of pay

Typical rates of pay for contractors will of course vary depending on any individual’s skill-set, but as a guide, an IT Project Manager in the region could expect to earn around £350 to £400 per day, whilst a less specialist contractor might expect to command a day rate of around £300 to £350. For typical rates of pay in Scotland across a variety of skill sets visit our contractor rates of pay page.

Ones to watch

The 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow

This is a huge opportunity for contractors as there will be a requirement for all types of people, across everything from marketing and tourism through to IT and construction. Key partners in this project include the Scottish Government, Glasgow City Council and Commonwealth Games Scotland, all of which are committed to delivering an outstanding athlete-centred and sport-focused Commonwealth Games, which will be held up as an exemplar for future organising committees.

The committee as it stands today is made up of a team of professionals, drawn from a number of backgrounds in the public and private sectors, who are passionate about the task, the mission and the vision. The team is small at the moment but will be rising to around 1,000 by the time of the Games. To find out more visit Work for Glasgow 2014.

Glasgow Service with Style

The city has ambitious yet tangible plans to grow tourism revenue by 60% by 2016 - and to boost tourism-related employment to 40,000 in the same period. Glasgow's tourism, leisure, retail and hospitality industry also has high hopes of showcasing service excellence and high visitor appeal during the 2014 Commonwealth Games. This not only provides opportunities for contractors in the tourism sector but also in construction and other related fields.

Glasgow Service with Style is a unique public/private sector industry partnership that aims to deliver the goal of a world-class customer service experience for all of the city’s leisure and business visitors. The project is supported by the Glasgow Tourism Strategy Group, comprising Glasgow City Council, Glasgow City Marketing Bureau, Scottish Enterprise and VisitScotland, along with Skills Development Scotland.

Replacement Forth Crossing

The Forth Replacement Crossing is a major infrastructure project for Scotland, designed to safeguard a vital connection in the country’s transport network. Despite significant investment and maintenance over its lifetime, the Forth Road Bridge is showing signs of deterioration and is not suitable as the long-term main crossing of the Firth of Forth. After many years of planning, the construction tender process for a new crossing commenced in Winter 2009 and the contract will be awarded in early 2011, with construction starting soon after. It is expected to take until 2016 for completion.

Transport 2030 vision

In February 2010, the Transport, Infrastructure and Environment Committee approved ‘Transport 2030 Vision’ a 20-year vision for transport in Edinburgh. The vision is that by 2030, Edinburgh’s transport system will be one of the greenest, healthiest and most accessible in northern Europe. This gives a clear and long lasting vision for movement over the next 20 years which will support objectives relating to the environment, social inclusion, accessibility, connectivity, health, and the economy. This programme of activity - which will include projects such as high speed rail links, an expansion of the tram network, new cycle ways and improved traffic management systems - will of course require substantial investment in construction and therefore provide opportunities for contractors in Edinburgh for years to come.

Waterfront Promenade Development

The Edinburgh Waterfront Promenade will form a continuous walkway/cycleway extending for almost 17km from Joppa in the east to Cramond in the west. The Promenade will link communities along the coast with each other and with adjoining communities, to provide a safe and attractive corridor for pedestrians and cyclists. It will be much more than simply a footpath and cycleway, as along the route a number of nodes will be developed that will act as destination points offering opportunities for recreation and entertainment facilities whilst also respecting the coastline.

Investing in this key piece of high quality infrastructure will enable the Council and its partners to support the continued economic growth of the Waterfront, improving access to amenities and services, and also enhancing the environment of this coastal location. The project commenced in 2009 and is due for completion by 2013.

Other developments

There are many other planned development activities in Edinburgh including the Open Space Strategy - which aims to ensure that a coordinated approach is taken to protecting and developing the city’s network of open space, an upgrade of Waverley Station between 2012 to 2014, and a commitment to develop 4,000 new hotel rooms by 2015.

Things to consider about contracting in Edinburgh and Glasgow


  • Edinburgh is a beautiful city and was awarded ‘Best Place in the UK to Live’, ‘Best quality of life in the UK’ and ‘Least polluted’ in recent surveys.
  • Commuting times from the wider city region to Edinburgh are significantly shorter than in most other UK cities.
  • Glasgow has the largest retail centre and the largest public transport network outside London.
  • Both cities have excellent transport links, with short travel-to-work times and are easy to get to and from by road, rail and air.


  • They are a long way from, well, anywhere really – especially if you hanker to get back to London and the South regularly.
  • Glasgow especially has a slight perception of being a little tougher, with some areas which are in need of renovation.
  • Edinburgh has a generally higher cost of living than other Northern UK cities as it is such a major tourist destination.

Key recruitment agencies and job boards

Most UK-wide recruitment agencies will carry a high number of Scotland-based contractor jobs, so they should be pretty easy to track down. Try all the usual options and then search for either positions in Scotland in general, or specifically Edinburgh and Glasgow. Contractor, Interim Manager and IT specific recruiters includes: Archer Mathieson -Timothy James, Aston Carter and Computer people. Jobboards such as Technojobs advertising contractor vacancies in the area.