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Scotland on Brink of Finally Closing Its Seven Year Long ‘Jobs Gap’

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Scotland is just 9,000 jobs short of closing its post-crisis ‘jobs gap’ and returning to its mid-2008 employment rate, the Resolution Foundation said today as it publishes a major new report on the Scottish labour market. This milestone could be reached later this morning when the latest official employment figures are released, but comes 15 months after England closed its jobs gap.

The Foundation’s analysis finds that Scotland is one of just three parts of the UK yet to restore pre-crash employment rates (along with Northern Ireland and the South East of England). Scotland’s employment rate stood at 74.6 per cent immediately before the recession and reached 74.3 per cent in August-October 2015. England closed its ‘jobs gap’ in 2014, with its employment rate now at a record 74.3 per cent.

The report, titled The State of Working Scotland, finds that while Scotland has experienced a comparatively disappointing performance on employment since the crash, it has undergone a less severe squeeze on pay.

Typical pay in Scotland is currently 5.7 per cent below its 2009 peak, compared to a drop of 9.1 per cent across England. Analysis released earlier this week by the Foundation showed that typical pay in Scotland is now – at £11.92 an hour – marginally higher than England (£11.84).

The Foundation argues that stronger employment gains will be needed if Scotland is to maintain its new pay advantage. Even if the overall ‘jobs gap’ is closed today, it expects unemployment in Scotland to remain higher than in England and full-time employment to remain below its pre-crash level. This risks holding back pay in Scotland by limiting the ability of those in jobs to argue for higher wages. The Foundation also notes that the share of ‘underemployed’ workers – those seeking to work more hours – is still above pre-recession levels.

With further cuts to working-age benefits set to bite in the coming years and pre-announced UK wide tax changes disproportionately benefiting higher income households, the Foundation say that prospects for living standards of low and middle income Scots inevitably rest on the strength of the labour market. Closing the jobs gap would be a positive step not just for the employment rate but living standards more broadly.

Conor D’Arcy, Policy Analyst at the Resolution Foundation, said:

“Scotland enjoyed a significantly higher employment rate than England in the years running up to the financial crisis. But its relatively poor track record in recent years means that it has fallen back in line with England.

“This puts Scotland’s new-found pay advantage over England at risk and it’s vital that its job gap is closed sooner rather than later. Attention must then turn to why Scotland is lagging behind some other areas of the UK, and what can be done to speed up its sluggish employment growth.

“In order to move towards full employment, it is important for employers to offer ‘pull factors’ to encourage people who may not actively be looking for work to enter the labour market, such as flexible working and paying at least the voluntary Living Wage. The next Scottish government should play a central role in fostering such change. With new powers over disability benefits and back-to-work programmes, whoever wins in May’s election must make it their focus to re-establish Scotland’s reputation as a labour market leader.”

Economy

A Good Look At How Homes Will Become More Energy Efficient Soon

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energy efficient homes

Everyone always talks about ways they can save energy at home, but the tactics are old school. They’re only tweaking the way they do things at the moment. Sealing holes in your home isn’t exactly the next scientific breakthrough we’ve been waiting for.

There is some good news because technology is progressing quickly. Some tactics might not be brand new, but they’re becoming more popular. Here are a few things you should expect to see in homes all around the country within a few years.

1. The Rise Of Smart Windows

When you look at a window right now it’s just a pane of glass. In the future they’ll be controlled by microprocessors and sensors. They’ll change depending on the specific weather conditions directly outside.

If the sun disappears the shade will automatically adjust to let in more light. The exact opposite will happen when it’s sunny. These energy efficient windows will save everyone a huge amount of money.

2. A Better Way To Cool Roofs

If you wanted to cool a roof down today you would coat it with a material full of specialized pigments. This would allow roofs to deflect the sun and they’d absorb less heat in the process too.

Soon we’ll see the same thing being done, but it will be four times more effective. Roofs will never get too hot again. Anyone with a large roof is going to see a sharp decrease in their energy bills.

3. Low-E Windows Taking Over

It’s a mystery why these aren’t already extremely popular, but things are starting to change. Read low-E window replacement reviews and you’ll see everyone loves them because they’re extremely effective.

They’ll keep heat outside in summer or inside in winter. People don’t even have to buy new windows to enjoy the technology. All they’ll need is a low-E film to place over their current ones.

4. Magnets Will Cool Fridges

Refrigerators haven’t changed much in a very long time. They’re still using a vapor compression process that wastes energy while harming the environment. It won’t be long until they’ll be cooled using magnets instead.

The magnetocaloric effect is going to revolutionize cold food storage. The fluid these fridges are going to use will be water-based, which means the environment can rest easy and energy bills will drop.

5. Improving Our Current LEDs

Everyone who spent a lot of money on energy must have been very happy when LEDs became mainstream. Incandescent light bulbs belong in museums today because the new tech cut costs by up to 85 percent.

That doesn’t mean someone isn’t always trying to improve on an already great invention. The amount of lumens LEDs produce per watt isn’t great, but we’ve already found a way to increase it by 25 percent.

Maybe Homes Will Look Different Too

Do you think we’ll come up with new styles of homes that will take off? Surely it’s not out of the question. Everything inside homes seems to be changing for the better with each passing year. It’s going to continue doing so thanks to amazing inventors.

ShutterStock – Stock photo ID: 613912244

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Economy

IEMA Urge Government’s Industrial Strategy Skills Overhaul To Adopt A “Long View Approach”

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IEMA, in response to the launch of the Government’s Industrial Strategy Green Paper, have welcomed the focus on technical skills and education to boost “competence and capability” of tomorrow’s workforce.

Policy experts at the world’s leading professional association of Environment and Sustainability professionals has today welcomed Prime Minister Teresa May’s confirmation that an overhaul of technical education and skills will form a central part of the Plan for Britain – but warns the strategy must be one for the long term.

Martin Baxter, Chief Policy Advisor at IEMA said this morning that the approach and predicted investment in building a stronger technical skills portfolio to boost the UK’s productivity and economic resilience is positive, and presents an opportunity to drive the UK’s skills profile and commitment to sustainability outside of the EU.

Commenting on the launch of the Government’s Industrial Strategy Green Paper, Baxter said today:

“Government must use the Industrial Strategy as an opportunity to accelerate the UK’s transition to a low-carbon, resource efficient economy – one that is flexible and agile and which gives a progressive outlook for the UK’s future outside the EU.

We welcome the focus on skills and education, as it is vital that tomorrow’s workforce has the competence and capability to innovate and compete globally in high-value manufacturing and leading technology.

There is a real opportunity with the Industrial Strategy, and forthcoming 25 year Environment Plan and Carbon Emissions Reduction Plan, to set long-term economic and environmental outcomes which set the conditions to unlock investment, enhance natural capital and provide employment and export opportunities for UK business.

We will ensure that the Environment and Sustainability profession makes a positive contribution in responding to the Green Paper.”

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