Scotland’s economic performance is weaker than the rest of the UK with a lack of able candidates to fill tens of thousands of skilled job vacancies, a new report reveals.
Scots workers also face the lowest rates of career progression in the UK, the report by the IPPR think-tank finds. It is now calling for major reform of the country’s skills system as part of a drive to increase productivity and tackle in-work poverty.
Between 2010-2015 around 118,000 new jobs have been created, but recovery is weaker in Scotland than the UK as a whole.
Russell Gunson, Director of IPPR Scotland, said: “This report shows that while Scotland has seen a jobs recovery in recent years, there are real concerns looking ahead. Reform is required to make sure the skills system in Scotland is focused on the needs of learners and of Scotland’s economy.
“It’s clear that 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, as welcome as that is, we need to go beyond that.”
Scotland’s skills system does not adequately focus on employers’ demand, with an estimated 29,000 more entry-level vacancies at mid-skill level than there are people qualified to do them, according to the report published in partnership with JPMorgan Chase’s New Skills at Work programme.
New jobs in Scotland have been in lower-skill sectors than the sectors that have lost jobs over this time. The number of jobs in Scotland’s key financial and insurance services sector contracted by 9.6 per cent between 2010 and 2015.
Youth employment has been, and remains, consistently higher in Scotland than UK as a whole – 56.2 per cent youth employment rate in Scotland versus 53.5 per cent in the UK.
Mr Gunson added: “The skills system in Scotland needs to better show how it contributes to improving rates progression, productivity and in-work poverty.
“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.”