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Higher skills needed for jobs boom

THERE WILL be more highly qualified people in the Scottish workforce in 10 years' time, according to the latest report from FutureSkills Scotland. It also estimates there will be 84,000 more jobs by 2017 - a 3 per cent increase.

The report on labour market projections says around a third of the working-age population hold further and higher education qualifications. By 2017, that is expected to rise to almost half of the workforce, reflecting the increasing number of individuals gaining professional and postgraduate qualifications.

Over the same period, the number of people with no qualifications is expected to halve, from 13 to 6 per cent.

The report also predicts a continued shift away from manual occupations towards the service sector.

Patrick Watt, head of FutureSkills Scotland, said this once again highlighted the importance of the "softer" skills, such as teamwork, problem-solving and dealing with customers.

"These are likely to become more important in meeting the demand for higher-skilled workers in the service sectors," he said.

But the report says that, although employment growth will be dominated by service industries, there will be job openings in all occupations because of the need to replace workers who leave.

Charlene O'Connor, director of skills and learning at Scottish Enterprise, of which FutureSkills Scotland is part, said the report underlined the importance of having the right skills for the job.

"As Scotland's industry and sectoral mix changes, it is clear that we need people with better and higher skills to help us compete on the world stage," she said.

Iain Duff, chief economist of the Scottish Council for Development and Industry, said the substantial growth in services and the trend towards higher-value manufacturing "make it imperative that employers and employees - both current and future - skills providers and educational institutions are able to react and adapt."

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