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Invest in skilled workforce

I noted with interest the relevant comments by Chris Humphries, chief executive of the UK Commission for Employment and Skills, that there will have to be closer alignment between skills provision and what employers need (May 28).

Skills development is vital to the productivity and sustainable economic growth of Scotland, and it is key that we maintain investment to deliver a skilled workforce, maintaining economic recovery and boosting growth.

A recent Confederation of British Industry report reinforced the challenge ahead: demand for highly-skilled people is set to intensify during the recovery, yet half of employers fear they will not be able to fill jobs with suitably-qualified candidates.

Although the Scottish Government has identified seven "key sectors" for high growth in its economic strategy, it is close working with employers, colleges and universities that will ensure we are able not only to fill the skills gaps in the market today, but forecast and fill the skills gaps of the future. Simply increasing the supply of skills without the corresponding demand will waste time, money and effort, of importance especially given current budgetary constraints.

The transformative power of skills to deliver us out of the recessionary rut and accelerate economic growth cannot be prized highly enough, and we must continue to invest in a skilled workforce.

Jacqui Hepburn, director, Alliance of Sector Skills Councils, Scotland, Castle Street, Edinburgh.

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