Scotland bids to attract migrant workers

Scotland is launching a drive to attract more foreign workers in an attempt
to boost the country’s falling population and encourage economic growth.

Jack McConnell, the Scottish First Minister, is hoping to attract more
immigrant workers to prevent a stretched workforce and combat skills shortages.

The campaign will seek to persuade people applying for permission to work in
the UK, to go to Scotland rather than other areas.

Foreign students who gain qualifications at universities in Scotland will be
encouraged to stay and work in the country and the Scottish executive is also
planning an overseas marketing campaign.

Allan Hogarth, a spokesman for the Scottish CBI, said the country needs to
adopt similar immigration policies to Canada and the US if it is to attract
skilled immigrants.

He said that unless more was done to make Scotland attractive to overseas
workers, the skills gaps in the economy would continue to grow.

"We welcome this innovative and courageous approach to tackling the
demographic time bomb that’s ticking in Scotland," Hogarth said.
"There’s a recognition that we need to attract younger and more skilled
people to the country."

Scotland’s population has fallen by 2 per cent in the past decade and is
expected to fall by another 4.5 per cent to just 4.83m by 2006.

Scotland is the only area in the whole of Europe where the population and
number of births are projected to fall.

Paul Pagliari, HR director at Scottish Water, welcomed the scheme, but said
the extent of the population problem and skills shortages came as a surprise.

"It’s a very positive thing to do and having a more cosmopolitan
community and workforce can only be a good thing. We’ve got a very open mind on
where staff come from, but we’ve not really experienced any problems recruiting
employees with the right skills," he said.

By Ross Wigham

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