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Last Updated: Wednesday, 18 October 2006, 19:33 GMT 20:33 UK
Skill shortage 'hitting' economy
Construction workers
A shortage of construction skills is hampering Scotland's economy
A shortage of skilled construction workers, planning problems and a decaying transport system are hindering Scotland's economy, a new report said.

The Scottish Chambers of Commerce have raised serious concerns over several Scottish Executive policies.

The report said recruitment difficulties were a major concern in the tourism, construction and manufacturing sectors.

The executive claimed the economy was heading in the right direction.

The survey was carried out with Strathclyde University's Fraser of Allander Institute using current trading conditions from nearly 400 benchmark companies.

We are looking for action by government to deliver real improvements in skills provision
Liz Cameron
Scottish Chambers of Commerce

Liz Cameron, director of the Scottish Chambers of Commerce, said: "It is gratifying to have measurements which show increased demand, and significantly higher work in progress, especially in our manufacturing sector.

"Against this background of economic strength, a number of barriers to growth were cited by business which needs to be urgently addressed.

"There are three areas in particular - skills shortages, planning delays, and inadequacy in the transport infrastructure.

"We are looking for action by government to deliver real improvements in skills provision."

Ms Cameron added that the executive's Fresh Talent initiative had helped address recruitment difficulties, but she argued this was only a short-term measure.

In the construction sector, planning delays were cited as one of the factors most likely to restrict growth over the next quarter.

Vibrant economy

The report also found that Scotland depends crucially on internal and external connectivity but does not have the transport infrastructure to deal with global competitors.

An executive spokeswoman said the main business indicators were pointing in the right direction.

She added: "Independent forecasts are for trend growth, or above, in the Scottish economy over 2006.

"We recognise that there are challenges associated with a vibrant economy, such as coping with the extra pressure placed on the labour market and transport infrastructure."

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