Scotland lags UK on job creation, recruitment survey finds
Scotland is lagging behind the rest of the UK at job creation, according to a recruitment consultancy survey.
Manpower's quarterly employment outlook survey, which tracks confidence in the jobs market, shows a general improvement since the last count.
But the poll of 2,100 UK employers found that the same number of Scottish companies intended to contract their workforce as expand it.
The Scottish government said the survey did not reflect "official figures".
It added that Scotland was "leading the way in the jobs market".
According to Manpower, all other parts of the UK reported more hiring than shedding of staff.
The firm claims the fall in the oil price has hit the Scottish jobs market.
However, the survey also highlighted confidence in the call centre sector, particularly in Glasgow and Edinburgh.
Amanda White, operations manager at Manpower UK, said she expected current trends to continue.
She added: "With skills shortages in the oil and gas industry well-known, it's important that employers track the skills required, in order to ensure growth for the long-term.
"Among the gloom, there are some bright spots, such as the thriving customer service industry in Scotland, with Glasgow and Edinburgh both seeing demand for candidates with call centre experience.
"The big Scottish cities are increasingly becoming known for their friendly and experienced call centre staff and skilled candidates in this field can feel positive about the jobs market this quarter."
A Scottish government spokesman challenged the findings.
He said: "Last year saw the fastest annual rate of growth since before the financial crisis, translating into real opportunities for business and added security for workers and families."
The survey suggested skill shortages are at their worst in the north of England and in the health sector.
The strongest figures for companies hiring over those expecting to shed workers are in London, South-West England and the East Midlands.
Manpower also used the survey results to voice support for the UK retaining its membership of the European Union.
The company said a withdrawal from the EU would threaten jobs and harm the economy by creating uncertainty and making it harder to recruit workers from overseas.
The UK government has promised an in-out referendum on EU membership by the end of 2017.