Moray’s economy is founded primarily in manufacturing, with a focus on the food and drink, agriculture and tourism sectors. The presence of two large defence establishments in the area also creates employment opportunities.

This combination means there is an incredibly diverse range of specialisms for residents to make their mark in. Add to that a growing population, high level of employment and several expanding industry sectors, and you’ll see just how much Moray has to offer.

Whether you want the security of a 9-5 office-based job, the adventure that comes with working in the great outdoors, or the variety of a creative environment, there are excellent opportunities in Moray.

“ For Johnstons of Elgin the place that we do business is at the core of our brand. We are very lucky to be in Moray, where  our people are highly skilled, engaged with learning and  development, understand quality and are committed to the  company.”  

Chris Gaffney, Finance Director, Johnstons of Elgin

New and developing industries

The fastest growth sectors in Moray are forecast to be creative industries and digital, life sciences and technologies, and financial and business services. New business growth in technology-driven sectors combined with a higher density of medium-sized enterprises with the capability to grow further will be an important factor in positively influencing the area’s long-term economic growth. Some of the companies which have successfully scaled up their businesses in Moray are Gael Force Group, Johnstons of Elgin, Gordon & Macphail, Forsyths, Baxters and James Jones.

Key sectors

Manufacturing, which includes the food and drink industry, remains the largest employer in Moray, providing almost 7,000 jobs in the region. Wholesale and retail trade is the second largest sector in Moray, accounting for 6,500 jobs in 2018. Another key industry is aerospace and defence. Moray is home to RAF Lossiemouth, one of the largest and busiest multi aircraft-type stations in the Royal Air Force, and Kinloss Barracks, the base for the army’s 39 Royal Engineers (Air Support). In April 2018, the UK Government announced major investment in RAF Lossiemouth with the introduction of new aircraft to strengthen the defence of the UK and its allies. Over 10 years, MOD investment in the region of £3bn will increase Moray’s population by up to 4,000 people, including an additional 550 service personnel by 2020, bringing the total number employed at RAF Lossiemouth to over 2,200.

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growth Sectors in Moray

  • Aerospace and defence is strong in Moray, accounting for 8% of total employment, or some 2,750 employees and rising. There is optimism for the future of this sector, driven by the strategic importance of Moray to the defence of the UK and its allies. Moray is well placed to capitalise upon this optimism, as there appears to be a relatively strong skills pipeline for future growth, both in terms of further education students and modern apprentices. New opportunities include space-related businesses, like Forres based Orbex, linked to the satellite launch site being built in Sutherland.
  • Food and drink in Moray employs 17.1% of the workforce the highest per head of population in Scotland. Moray is home to almost 50% of Scotland’s whisky distilleries, which contribute directly to both skilled employment and to the tourism sector
  • Life sciences and technology is emerging as a strong sector with a number of different strands of activity energising the sector. In particular, the area has a growing reputation in the development of digital technologies designed to help improve service delivery and efficiency in the social care and health sector. The rural geography of the area has already helped to support new developments in digital health and medical diagnostics, as technology companies demonstrate how digital solutions can successfully be used to overcome barriers caused by distance and improve social care. The Moray location of the Digital Health Institute, as Scotland’s innovation centre for this sector, is a major catalyst in the future growth of the sector.

“We came to Moray because the friendly community here welcomes people from all over the world. The supportive business environment means we can find the training we need locally. We plan to scale-up over the next  few years, so a skilled workforce is  crucial.”

Heather McDonald, Chief Executive Officer, Wooha Brewery, Kinloss

growth Sectors in Moray

  • Tourism, including accommodation and food services, is the sixth largest sector in Moray, with visitors to the area supporting more than 2,846 full-time equivalent jobs. Moray’s Tourism Strategy recognises that the sector generates over 10% of Moray’s total employment and 3.8% of the total turnover of businesses. The strategy aims to double tourism spend in Moray by 2025. The focus is on increasing value generated by sustainable numbers of visitors.
  • Creative industries and digital is incredibly diverse and ranges from arts-based organisations to the small cluster of technology businesses that are growing quickly from bases in Elgin and Forres. Moray has over 260 businesses working in the sector. As the leading academic institutions supporting local growth in this sector, both Glasgow School Art and Moray College offer excellent courses to advance a career in this sector.
  • Light and heavy engineering is well-established in Moray with a significant number of people employed in the offshore oil & gas industry, as well as in house-building and in large infrastructure developments. With 8% of all employment in this sector, Moray is the headquarters location for a group of large businesses who are committed to workforce development and to apprenticeships, which underpin the predicted total employment rise of at least 300 jobs in skilled construction professionals in the area. Moray has substantial competitive advantages in engineering and construction because of the skills and leadership built up over several generations in family businesses.

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