Scotland is an open, outward-looking and welcoming country. We recognise and highly value the remarkable contributions that people from around the world have made and continue to make to Scotland. As this paper makes clear, individuals who have made Scotland home make significant contributions in key roles across the breadth of our economy and public services, including in the front-line response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Migration is part of Scotland's story and remains vital for both our shared economic prosperity and tackling our demographic challenges.
Our previous responses to the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) have clearly outlined the positive contributions of migrants - to our economy, our public services, our culture and the enrichment of society as a whole. In March 2019 our response on the MAC's previous review of the Shortage Occupation List set out the vital contributions and positive impact that people from EEA and non-EEA countries make to Scotland, across the economy. Similarly, our response to the most recent call for evidence on the proposed Salary Threshold and Points-Based Immigration System in December 2019 outlined that a salary-selective system would disproportionally negatively affect Scotland.
We are therefore very disappointed with the proposals set out this year by the UK Government.
Whilst we welcome the extension of roles at RQF 3-5 for the Shortage Occupation List, this does not go far enough. The UK Government's new immigration policy plans fail to address Scotland's distinct demographic and economic needs, and disregards key sectors that we have relied upon during this pandemic, including social care workers. Moreover, we are dismayed that within their immigration policy proposals the UK Government continues to inappropriately and inaccurately label several key sectors as "low-skilled", which is offensive and does not recognise the UK's reliance on people fulfilling these crucial roles.
The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically reshaped our economy and it is vital that any future immigration system adequately addresses our future needs as a society. As we face the biggest economic crisis in decades, I urge the UK Government to take the time necessary to work with the Devolved Administrations and ensure their proposals can be adapted to work for us all. Pushing ahead regardless of concerns and the changing circumstances would be reckless and unnecessary.
This paper provides detailed evidence on recruitment needs across the Scottish economy, as well as outlining how the Shortage Occupation List could be made more flexible and responsive to the needs of the Scottish economy, our communities and public service delivery.
The evidence is clear that Scotland's needs are distinct from much of the rest of the UK. We need an approach to migration that recognises those differential needs and enables us to create tailored solutions.
Mr Ben Macpherson
Minister for Public Finance and Migration