New UK Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures show that Scottish Employment reached a new all-time high between October and December, with 22,000 more Scots were in work compared with the previous record quarter, bringing the total to 2,636,000.
The employment rate rose to 74.8%, above the UK average of 74.1%, while the number of people out of work fell by 5,000 to 162,000 and the number of people claiming Job Seeker's Allowance declined by 3,200 from December to 60,700 in January.
Employment and wages have also improved relative to the rest of the UK and are now higher here than the UK average, despite falling oil prices, showing the strength and diversity of Scotland’s economy.
Said Kenneth Gibson MSP:
“This month's figures bring very positive news for Scotland's jobs market. While volatility remains, the highest level of people in employment since records began demonstrates that we are on the right track with continuous improvement.
“Here in Ayrshire, our three local authorities are working together to boost infrastructure, jobs and attract investment. The Ayrshire Growth Deal (AGD) will be launched by Deputy First Minister John Swinney MSP in West Kilbride on 04 March.
“The AGD will focus on five key areas; business architecture, physical infrastructure, skills and education, inclusive growth and digital infrastructure.
“Ayrshire lost 53% of its manufacturing employment in the decade from 1997 to 2007 when Tony Blair was Labour Prime Minister, compared to 37% for the rest of Scotland. Given the recession that then hit, it has been no easy task to catch up by attracting new jobs and investment. However, much progress has been made.
“Under the SNP, the number of young people in apprenticeships, which in Scotland are tied to a job unlike in England, has risen by 59.7%. In North Ayrshire that growth figure is much more significant, from 446 to 889, an increase of 99.3%. Youth unemployment has fallen faster here than elsewhere in Scotland over the last three years.
“Much of the credit should go to SNP led North Ayrshire Council which established the innovative ‘Team North Ayrshire’ consisting of key leaders from both the public and private sectors who are committed to helping drive business growth in North Ayrshire. These include Scottish Enterprise, Skills Development Scotland, Scottish Development International and nine major local businesses, each representing growth sectors of the economy.
“This support network offers greater collaboration, a single point of contact and more flexible support programmes to North Ayrshire businesses. Last month I met with Scottish Enterprise, which is working hard to attract inward investment and has identified 40 key export led growth companies in North Ayrshire, with support being given to another 150.
“On Friday, 26 February from 9am until 12.30pm in Ardrossan Civic Centre I will host an Employment Fayre I have organised, where folk of all ages can find jobs, apprenticeships, education and training.
“We are working hard to boost the local economy and the Ayrshire Growth Deal will be good for the whole of Ayrshire and for Scotland.”