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Skills Base Critical to Scotlands Future Employment Prospects

Commenting on the Monthly Labour Market Statistics Scottish Chambers of Commerce identified some indications justifying optimism, but felt that overall the labour market would still suffer further before the recovery rebuilds employment.

Chief Executive Liz Cameron said:

"The one negative which appears to have peaked is the rate of redundancies, which is now falling, but it does so with a legacy of the current rate being three times higher than a year ago and a ten percent increase in benefit recipients over the period. Although we are seeing signs of improvement in some economic areas, overall, Scottish business still has a challenging path ahead, which reflects our ability to continue to employ at our current level.

"Of particular concern and note is the continued rise in unemployment amongst young people. We must address this as a matter of urgency. We simply will not be in a position to grow our economy if we have graduates and young people coming out of our education system with no job or extended, focused skills training clearly matched to what business will need. Our ability to retain our existing skill base will be the key to Scotland’s future.

"What we don’t need right now is government policies, and an environment, which inhibits business survival and growth. One clear example being government’s plans to go ahead with the increase in National Insurance contributions. We need more initiatives comparable with the Town Centre Regeneration Fund and the extended Regional Selective Assistance investment – these should be at the heart of our wealth creation capability, particularly in our manufacturing sectors. Here we have experienced a fall in productivity of 4% against a wage cost rise of over 6%. It is attention to this level of detail, and exactly where government is investing our funding, which needs to be explored further. The trick in a climate of burgeoning public debt is to do this whilst curtailing the cost of government."

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