THERE ARE signs from the engineering industry that the training culture is taking hold in Scotland. Sixty-one per cent of employers report that workforce skills are increasing compared with 53 per cent in Britain as a whole.
In a survey by the Engineering and Marine Training Authority, the national training organisation, just under a third of Scottish employers reported a skills gap in their employees.
Lack of practical skills - the ability to carry out job-related tasks - was most commonly mentioned. Other skills in short supply were computer literacy, problem-solving, team working, craft and management skills and personal and communications skills.
But 90 per cent believed their workforce was up to speed in handling new technologies. Robotics had been more widely adopted north of the border than elsewhere.
Half of Scots employers had an apprentice or recognised trainee, compared with 41 per cent nationally. Day release was the most common way of delivering training to the young, with evening courses less popular than south of the border. The biggest obstacle to training was cost, including staff time, though again Scottish employers had fewer problems.
Scottish Vocational Qualifications are used by 35 per cent of employers compared with 27 per cent using National Vocational Qualifications (or SVQs) in Britain as a whole.
"The Labour Market Survey of the Engineering Industry 1998 - report for Scotland" is available, price pound;35, from EMTA, Vector House, 41 Clarendon Road, Watford WD1 1HS.