Scotland's engineering firms have been enjoying a continued phase of healthy orders, according to a report.
Industry leaders are worried about a skills shortage
New figures from Scottish Engineering showed that more companies experienced an increase in orders during the past quarter than suffered a drop.
It was the ninth period in a row that the statistics have shown a favourable outlook for engineering.
Industry spokesman Dr Peter Hughes warned that UK orders had fallen and he voiced skills shortage fears.
Electronic manufacturing firms, which provide work for sub-contractors, reported that 36% of the companies they dealt with were enjoying fuller order books.
However, Dr Hughes said: "While we are seeing that orders generally are positive, in this last quarter UK orders have taken a slight dip.
"As this particular sector has been positive for two years I am hopeful that it will recover in the New Year."
The industry body chief executive, who stressed that the entire sector was planning to invest in training, added: "I believe that this shows how seriously our manufacturing engineering companies are taking the skills shortage which they are experiencing.
"They recognise that we need a properly skilled workforce in order to compete on a global scale, particularly to meet the challenges from the emerging economies of China and beyond."
Statistics last month showed that firms in Scotland were becoming more gloomy about their outlook.
Figures from the employers' organisation CBI Scotland showed that fewer companies were optimistic about their prospects over the next six months.
Leaders of the Scottish Council for Development and Industry had earlier called on ministers to invest more in research and development and improve transport links.