Immigrants ‘not the answer’ for Scotland’s economy

Professor Robert Wright was appearing before Holyrood's external relations committee. Picture: Ian Rutherford
Professor Robert Wright was appearing before Holyrood's external relations committee. Picture: Ian Rutherford
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Boosting immigration after independence would not deal with Scotland’s ageing population timebomb, MSPs have been warned.

Attracting more immigrants is at the heart of the SNP’s plans to sustain the economy after any Yes vote. As the population gets older, it means higher social welfare and pension costs, and a booming workforce would be needed to pay for this in taxes.

But Professor Robert Wright, of Strathclyde University, said other measures would be needed to keep the economy thriving. He was appearing before Holyrood’s external relations committee as MSPs took evidence on the impact of citizenship and migration after any Yes vote.

Prof Wright said there was currently a net migration of about 25,000 a year in Scotland.

“Even a doubling of that is not going to generate the growth that we need,” he said. “It’s only going to happen by higher levels of immigration driving up higher levels of net migration, but we’re going to look at a lot of other areas where we can get savings and improve productivity.

“Having a managed immigration system that we have control of, that meets labour market needs, is critical to that, but it’s not the answer.”

He suggested more public services could be provided by the private sector and the university system could be overhauled to ensure graduates were more suited to the jobs available.

He added: “We need to grow the labour force.”

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