Recent alarming reports that Scotland’s unemployment rates outstrip the rest of the UK should prompt government at all levels to look afresh at their strategy for bringing this country out of recession

UK-wide, the figures show that construction has been hit harder than any other sector – the result of a collapse in private housebuilding and commercial and industrial construction.

They also show young Scots aged 16-24 hit particularly hard. But the fact remains that construction employs more modern apprentices than any other sector in Scotland.

Meanwhile, separate statistics show Scottish construction needing to recruit an additional 36,000 people over the next five years to avoid a skills shortage.

Those in control of the public purse strings looking to trim the considerable fat from the public sector need also to channel additional resources back into supporting strategically important industries. Construction ought to be a priority, punching above its weight in terms of its contribution to the Scottish skills agenda and GDP.

Tax cuts and incentives on building works, targeted support for construction apprentices and additional money diverted to capital expenditure number among the most effective measures to set our economy on an accelerated path towards sustainable recovery.

Michael Levack, chief executive, Scottish Building Federation