Scotland business

Skills training 'not focused on future'

Apprentice Image copyright PA

Scots in lower-skilled jobs are less likely to progress to higher-skilled ones than in the rest of the UK and much of Europe, a report has found.

It also found a shortage of suitable skills at middle career level.

The Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) Scotland said skills training has some elements that perform at least as well as the rest of Britain

But it concluded that training for those aged 16 and over is not focused on current or future demand.

The think tank has challenged Scots to look beyond comparison with the rest of the United Kingdom if it is to compete economically.

Its report, Jobs and Skills in Scotland, found 118,000 jobs were created between 2010 and 2015, when the economy was struggling to recover from recession.

However, the jobs recovery has been weaker than the rest of the UK, and Scotland's employment rate has gone, in those years, from being higher than the UK average to being lower.

Jobs growth in Scotland has been in lower-skill sectors while losing jobs in higher skill industries - including financial services, down by nearly 10% in Scotland between 2010 and 2015.

Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption The report says skills training needs more focus on future demand

There has been more of a balance in Scotland between manufacturing and the service sector than across the rest of Britain, where 87% of new jobs have been in services.

The gap between Scotland and the rest of Britain on average pay and productivity has been narrowed, but largely because the wider UK economy has seen productivity stall.

Among the particular problems of the Scottish jobs market is the lowest rate in Britain of career progression from low-skill to higher-skill employment. British career progression is low by international standards.

There is also a mismatch of job vacancies in Scotland with middle-level skills at early career level, with around 29,000 too few people qualified to fill them.

IPPR Scotland recommends reform which links funding and effort more strongly to career progression, productivity and tackling in-work poverty.

It urges better integration of employer needs with engagement of young people. A new regional regime is recommended, combining budgets.

The think tank also recommends that skills training should be directed towards new ways of learning that prepare younger people for future jobs, linked to demographic and technological change.

More ambition

Russell Gunson, director of IPPR Scotland, commented: "This report shows that while Scotland has seen a jobs recovery in recent years, there are real concerns looking ahead.

"Scotland needs to be more ambitious than aiming to match the UK economy. When UK pay has been falling in real-terms and productivity has stalled, we need to do more than catch up with the UK.

"It's not good enough that if you are currently in a low-skilled job in Scotland, you are more likely to stay in low-skilled employment than in most of the rest of the UK, and many other countries in Europe.

Keith Brown, the new economy secretary at the Scottish government, welcomed the report's positive findings about strengths in the Scottish jobs market, and pointed to the administration's commitment to expand the Modern Apprenticeship scheme over the next five years.

He added: "We have announced a review of enterprise and skills agencies to ensure we maximise our skills and economic interventions to support businesses and development opportunities, develop the skills the economy needs and create a competitive and supportive business environment".

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