Scottish employment rate at four-year high

The number of Scots with a job has reached a four-year high, official figures have shown.

Alex Salmond with Millar Callaghan Engineering employees during a visit to announce an investment of almost £90 million. Picture: PA

And unemployment also fell for the seventh month in a row after a decrease of 6,000. There are now 194,000 unemployed Scots, according to the figures for February to April.

The figures emerged as First Minister Alex Salmond announced an £88 million scheme aimed at helping up to 10,000 young people into work yesterday.

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Across the UK, unemployment was also down by 5,000 to 2.51 million, official figures yesterday showed. The Scottish unemployment rate is 7.1 per cent, which is below the average of 7.8 per cent for the whole of the UK.

The number of people in work in Scotland is up by 47,000 and now stands at 2.53 million.

Mr Salmond said: “Particularly welcome is the continuing fall in youth unemployment, which has fallen by 6.1 percentage points over the year, and which has dropped dramatically since I appointed Angela Constance as youth employment minister. I have announced further measures to support youth employment, with an £88m investment into work and supporting small business growth.”

The Scottish youth unemployment rate is now 15.2 per cent, compared to 25.4 per cent in December 2011 when Ms Constance was appointed youth employment minister.

Only five European Union countries have a lower youth unemployment rate than Scotland, according to the Scottish Government.

The investment unveiled by Mr Salmond is being split into two separate funds. The £50m Youth Employment Scheme will get half its cash from the Scottish Government and the European Social Fund, with a further £25m of in-kind support provided by local councils and employers.

Meanwhile, the £37.85m SME (small to medium enterprises) Growth Programme will aim to boost business growth and create employment opportunities.

Mr Salmond called on Chancellor George Osborne to use this month’s spending review to change course on the economy and invest more on capital spending to boost growth.

The number of people who are unemployed in Scotland – including those who are not eligible for benefits – is now 25,000 lower than the same period last year.

The employment rate in Scotland is also above the UK average and stands at 72.2 per cent in Scotland compared to 71.5 per cent.

The Scottish Government said the employment rate was the highest it had been since 2009 and that Scotland now had the highest employment rate and the lowest unemployment rate of the UK’s four nations.

But Scottish Secretary Michael Moore insisted the coalition’s action to cut the deficit was working. He said: “The rise in employment together with fewer people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance in Scotland is very welcome, not least for those who are moving from unemployment into jobs.

“This shows the decisions we are taking to tackle the deficit and build a stronger and fairer economy are working.”

Labour finance spokesman Ken Macintosh said there were fewer people in full-time jobs than a year ago.

He said: “Any fall in unemployment is welcome, but behind the headlines these figures show that there are less people now in full-time work than a year ago, more people unemployed for longer periods of time and more people in temporary jobs with no guarantee of future income.

“Contrary to SNP spin, the claimant count figures show no significant deviation from the UK figures either – the claimant count fell by exactly the same in Scotland as it did in England and Wales, and in fact Scotland’s claimant count remains higher than the UK average.”

‘Half of British workers plan to find new jobs’

Nearly half of UK employees plan to move jobs as dissatisfaction over pay and their professional future rises, a Europe-wide survey suggests.

A lack of confidence in their employer was also cited as a reason for workers’ itchy feet.

The trend was identified by research conducted by Ipsos among 7,200 European workers for the global pre-paid services business Edenred.

The so-called Edenred Barometer found the UK has the highest number of employees currently looking at moving jobs in Europe (48 per cent), with just over one in ten (12 per cent) actively planning their departure to pastures new.

The survey found concerns over job security in the UK was increasing at the highest rate in Europe with more than a quarter of employees (27 per cent) saying they were not confident over the future of the organisation they worked for and over a third (36 per cent) saying they were not confident about their future with that employer.

Despite this, UK employees said their biggest preoccupation in 2013 was their level of pay with 47 per cent saying they were dissatisfied with their purchasing power, up from 37 per cent in 2012.

The survey also found over one third of UK workers (37 per cent) saw their job as routine – the highest level of all countries surveyed. Just over one in three UK employees (35 per cent) said they were frequently happy at work and only 16 per cent said they regularly felt fulfilled.