Employment prospects north of the border are best in UK

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ACCORDING to figures released today, Scotland continues to enjoy the best employment prospects in the UK.

The statistics, which cover the period from February to April 2012, show that employment rates in Scotland are on the up while unemployment is also falling.

The labour market statistics, issued by the Office for National Statistics show that unemployment fell by 14000 in the three month period. This is the third consecutive month of published statistics to show a drop in unemployment.

The headline figure for employment also remains higher in Scotland when compared with the UK as a whole for the nineteenth month in a row.

Around 86,000 young people in Scotland between the ages of 16 and 24 were unemployed for February to April at a rate of 21.3% of the total population.

However the employment rate amongst this group is also proportionally higher than the rest of the UK with 53% of Scottish 16-24 year olds in employment –  4.3 percentage points higher than the comparable UK figure of 48.7%.

Finance Secretary John Swinney said:

“These figures show again that Scotland has a higher employment rate – for the nineteenth consecutive month of labour market statistics – and a lower rate of economic inactivity than the UK as a whole.

“Unemployment has continued to fall for the third month of figures, and the rate remains lower than in most of the other nations and regions of the UK – but while these are welcome trends, more needs to be done.

“The Scottish Government is doing everything within our current powers, working with our agencies, to create and bring jobs to Scotland with significant success – the latest Ernst and Young report, published today, shows that Scotland is the top performing location in the UK for achieving inward investment jobs.  Recently, Aker Solutions announced plans to add another 500 jobs to its current 2,700 strong operation in the North East, on top of announcements from Enercon and Gamesa.

“There are positive indications in the Scottish economy, but an expansion of capital investment by the UK Government is needed to boost job creation.

“We submitted a list of over 30 shovel-ready projects to the Prime Minister in March, and if these projects could go ahead now they would provide a vital boost to jobs and economic activity in Scotland.

“This has to be addressed as a matter of urgency – it’s time for the Westminster government to stop dragging its heels, and deliver the funding so that work on these projects can get underway and benefit communities across Scotland.

“We continue to face particular challenges in terms of youth and female unemployment, and we are taking forward specific initiatives to address these.  For example, the First Minister announced at the STUC Annual Congress that the Scottish Government would hold a Women’s Employment Summit to consider what steps can be taken to increase female employment across Scotland.

“With the full fiscal powers of independence we could do even more – but in the meantime the UK Government must help, rather than hinder, the process of economic recovery.”

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