An extra 3500 places are being created at Scotland's colleges thanks to a £13 million funding boost.

Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the additional places would provide "high quality training" in key areas where skills are in demand and would help young people into work.

Jobless young people will be able to get training, along with those who face difficulties finding work, while those who want to learn new skills could be offered retraining.

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The new college places are being created on courses for key sectors of the economy where skilled workers are in demand, such as the energy industry, the food and drink sector, health and the digital media.

Funding for the places is coming from the Scottish Government, via the Scottish Funding Council's Skills for a Competitive Workforce project, and the European Social Fund.

It comes after figures released last month showed colleges had seen student numbers drop by 140,000 in the last five years.

Ms Sturgeon announced the new places were being created as she visited West College Scotland's Paisley campus.

The Deputy First Minister said: "To secure sustained economic growth, Scotland needs to have a skilled and adaptable workforce. It is this type of joint investment that will help us meet this ambition."

Students and teaching unions welcomed the announcement, with Larry Flanagan, general secretary of the EIS teaching union, saying: "Additional investment in education is always welcome and brings long-lasting benefits for Scotland's economy."

John Henderson, chief executive of Colleges Scotland, said: "Today's announcement is very good news for colleges and learners. It will provide more opportunities for access to skills.

"And it underlines the Scottish Government's recognition of the vital role of colleges in contributing to the strengthening of the Scottish economy."