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Tertiary Call for more incentives to improve skills of country's workforce

The body which speaks for the training needs of employers has asked for more incentives to improve the skills of the workforce.

The Alliance of Sector Skills Councils in Scotland wants to axe the age restrictions on modern apprenticeships, give priority in learning to industries with high recruitment demand to increase the skills attainment of their employees and provide "targeted incentives" to stimulate employer investment in skills. It also urges public contracts to be awarded on condition that successful bidders create more apprenticeship opportunities.

These are among 17 policy recommendations the alliance is putting to the political parties in the hope that they will adopt some of them in their manifestos during the run-up to May's Holyrood elections.

Others include stronger representation for employers on school councils, and requiring courses to demonstrate "maximum value" by showing that they lead to a job.

Jacqui Hepburn, director of the Alliance of Sector Skills Councils in Scotland, said: "We are delighted to be launching our manifesto and urge Scotland's policy makers to put skills at the heart of their policy commitments.

"The importance of delivering a skilled workforce cannot be underestimated if we are to continue our recovery from recession and deliver sustainable economic growth, and it is imperative that the right skills are available to employers in the right place and at the right time."

The latest skills assessments predict significant employment growth for a range of established sectors of the Scottish economy over the next few years, including creative and cultural industries, waste management and renewable energy.

More modest growth in employment is predicted for a number of other sectors, including IT and telecoms, financial services, the motor trade, tourism and retail.

The alliance represents employers in 23 sectors of the economy.

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