Scottish manufacturers are the most optimistic in the UK that employment will rise in the second quarter and have "turned a corner", says the EEF.

They have reported a strong start to 2014, according to the employers' body, and are expecting an even stronger second quarter.

In the first quarter a balance of 16% of Scottish firms reported increased output and total orders, with 34% increasing employment. However, this increases further for the second quarter forecast with 25% predicting improved output, 44% increased orders, and 46% higher employment.

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The figures put Scotland halfway in the UK league with Yorkshire and Humber the highest performing area and the north-east the lowest, according to the survey conducted with advisers BDO.

But the second quarter forecast puts Scottish employers at the upper end of the table, with Scotland having the highest balance of firms optimistic that employment will rise.

Lee Hopley, the EEF's chief economist, said: "This is the most positive set of indicators we have seen for a long time.

"In Scotland it looks like we've turned a corner and are actively heading down the right road."