Migrants the key to success, says McConnell
JACK McConnell, the First Minister, yesterday said that Scotland would welcome economic migrants from across the globe.
Mr McConnell said he hoped to attract as many as 8,000 people to live and work in Scotland every year for the next five years under the Scottish Executive’s Fresh Talent Initiative.
Announcing the plans to the Scottish Parliament, Mr McConnell said drastic action had to be taken to tackle Scotland’s population decline which he described as the single greatest threat to the country’s future prosperity.
According to Executive figures the population is set to drop below five million by 2010.
Under the Fresh Talent Initiative, the Executive hopes to redress that decline by setting up a Relocation Advisory Service to market Scotland as a destination for economic migrants.
Scotland will be promoted within the work permit system and foreign students will be given visas to stay and work for two years after they graduate.
Mr McConnell said the first priority was to nurture and retain home-grown talent as well as encouraging Scots back home.
However, he warned that economic migrants were also required if the hopes and aspirations of the Scottish people were to be met.
"We must all be ambitious for Scotland. Nurturing and retaining home-grown talent, encouraging Scots back home and attracting fresh talent to our country sends a very strong signal to the world - that Scotland is back on the map, and is making her mark," he said.
David Blunkett, the Home Secretary, indicated that he would support Mr McConnell’s plans. Mr Blunkett said: "Fresh Talent is an opportunity for the UK government to work with the Scottish Executive."
John Swinney, the SNP leader said he "unreservedly" backed Mr McConnell’s proposals."The First Minister has accepted for the very first time the need for a different approach to immigration north and south of the Border," he said.
However, Mr Swinney said locking up the children of asylum seekers at Dungavel detention centre sent out the "wrong message" to people from abroad who may want to live here.
David McLetchie, the Scottish Tory leader, said the Executive should concentrate on improving the economy to make Scotland more attractive to those from overseas.
"Mr McConnell might be better to stick to his own job and not to David Blunkett’s," he said.
"Putting our own house in order is the key to acknowledging population growth and attracting skilled workers," he added.
"Will the First Minister accept the evidence from overseas that the countries which offer the best economic opportunities are the most successful in attracting people."
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Thursday 20 June 2013
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