Union chiefs call for investment to bolster 'fragile' labour market

UNION leaders have called for continued investment in Scotland's "fragile" labour market as their annual conference got under way.

The Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) is meeting in Dundee where members will be addressed by First Minister Alex Salmond and Scottish Secretary Jim Murphy during a three-day programme.

The body, which represents 640,000 trade unionists, described the challenges facing the jobs market as "acute" while highlighting the latest youth unemployment figures which soared by 89 per cent in the two years to February.

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There are at least nine Jobseeker's Allowance claimants for every vacancy advertised at the Jobcentre, the STUC said.

General secretary Grahame Smith said: "While the rate of decline in the labour market has slowed considerably, the challenges facing the Scottish labour market are acute.

It is vital that government continues to invest in active labour market programmes while the economy and labour market remain so fragile."

A Scottish Government spokesman said that Scotland continued to have higher employment rates than the UK as a whole.