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Sanwar Ali Comments:
Scottish politicians have in the past said that Scotland needs its own immigration system to meet the needs of the economy. As part of the UK, Scotland has to have a UK visa system that is the same or at least very similar to the rest of the UK.
Even with Scottish Government support it is still the case that the UK sponsor licence and UK visa system is too complicated, expensive and bureaucratic for many businesses. Since the end of the Brexit transition period Scotland and other parts of the UK have been experiencing increased skills shortages. The UK visa system is unable to effectively deal with the shortages.
Ministers in Scotland in December 2022 pledged nearly £4 million to an initiative designed to help businesses secure UK sponsor licences, navigate the UK immigration system and bring talented foreign workers to Scotland, according to a report published by The Scotsman. The Talent Attraction and Migration Service was first announced in April.
The project, unveiled by Scotland’s business minister, Ivan McKee, will see two advice systems set up for businesses and incoming foreign workers. The Scottish government is keen to boost immigration numbers in Scotland in a bid to support the country’s economic growth and offset the impact of Brexit and the coronavirus pandemic.
Scottish ministers claim that the UK’s exit from the EU and COVID-19 are two of the main reasons why industry sectors in Scotland, such as healthcare, have struggled to recruit enough staff, which has resulted in hundreds of thousands of vacancies.
Reduced population in Scotland
Increasing the flow of immigration into Scotland is also viewed as a solution to the country’s declining population. A contract notice, issued by the government on Public Contracts Scotland, states: “Two services will be set up – immigration support for employers in Scotland and reception support for people moving to Scotland.”
“This will cost almost £4m and help employers tackle a complex, bureaucratic and expensive immigration system. It is expected this will also increase the number of organisations holding a sponsorship licence, required if a company or business wishes to sponsor foreign workers or students to come and work and study in the UK,” the notice added.
It’s understood that the advice will be distributed via a website containing accurate, up-to-date information, blogs, social media content, newsletters and more. There will also be one-on-one advice available for employers who continue to face hurdles with the UK immigration system.
A government statement said: “The service for reception support is being developed to help welcome people to Scotland. We want people not only to move to Scotland, but to stay, with the first few months crucial to their overall experience.”
Website to be set up
A website is due to be set up and developed, plus one-to-one advice will be made available for those who have already arrived in Scotland.
According to The Scotsman report, approximately £3.8m has already been committed to supporting the project. However, the final contract for the programmes has not yet been awarded by the Scottish government.
News of increased sponsor licence support in Scotland comes following reports that only 3% of UK employers hold a sponsor licence to recruit foreign talent, despite a recent report stating that sponsor licences are fast becoming an ‘essential’ part of business plans.
Meanwhile, Scotland’s attempts to increase the number of foreign workers coming to the country follows criticism that the Scottish government is not taking in its ‘fair share’ of asylum seekers who have crossed the Channel on small boats.
According to UK Immigration Minister, Robert Jenrick, ‘Glasgow is the only Scottish council taking its fair share of asylum seekers and only a dozen hotels outside of the city are accepting new cases’.
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