The UK Government has announced that the combined limit for Tier 1 (General) and Tier 2 migration routes, excluding intra-company transfers, will be set at 21,700.
In response External Affairs Minister Fiona Hyslop said:
“We are deeply concerned about the damaging impact the annual limit will have on the Scottish economy. Scottish businesses, employers, universities and the NHS share our concerns that the UK proposal is not right for Scotland.
“We need a flexible approach to immigration. A regional variation – in line with the Calman recommendations – is the best way to support Scottish business and economic growth.
“To ensure sustainable economic growth and the success of our economy’s key sectors, we must be able to attract and retain world-class talent.
“The immigration cap will do the opposite. It will have a negative impact on business investment. It will hit our key sectors and small businesses particularly hard. It will target high-earning immigrants who pay tax in this country. It will put Scotland at a competitive disadvantage and our economy will suffer.
“I am alarmed that the Home Secretary believes that reducing net migration from the hundreds of thousands to the tens of thousands can only be achieved by cutting net migration under the study and family routes. Recruitment of international students is integral to Scottish universities’ contribution to our economy, cultural and social development, as well as our international profile. We will be making this clear to the UK Government.”
Councillor Harry McGuigan, COSLA’s spokesperson on Community Wellbeing and Safety, said:
“COSLA is concerned about the impact of the newly announced limit on migrants from outside the European Union. While immigration does need to be controlled, we believe the new limit goes too far and will be damaging to Scotland’s economic recovery and future growth.
“The limit targets exactly the type of people that Scotland and Scottish local authorities hope to attract – skilled and highly-skilled migrants. We need these skilled people in order to boost our economy and our working-age population to ensure that we have a sustainable workforce capable of supporting our very young, very old and vulnerable people.
“The immigration limit is designed for areas of the UK that have experienced very high levels of migration and doesn’t take into account Scotland’s situation. The limit will cause problems for some of Scotland’s more remote communities who already have difficulty recruiting professionals to fill key public sector roles, including within local authorities and health services.
“COSLA supports the principle of upskilling the local workforce and local authorities across Scotland are involved in initiatives aimed at achieving this. However, the UK Government has to realise that upskilling takes time and investment, and in the meantime migration from outside the UK allows us to fill skills shortage roles and provides experienced workers to support upskilling.”
Grahame Smith, General Secretary of the Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC), said:
“Migrant workers play a valuable role in the Scottish economy. They do jobs and provide key skills that our economy needs. Migrant workers from outside the EU play a crucial part in the NHS. Without them the provision of vital services would be threatened.
“The Westminster Government’s approach to migration cynically plays on the genuine fears many workers have about their employment prospects. It is driven by political concerns rather than economic need. This migration cap is not needed or wanted in Scotland and is likely to hurt our communities and our economic recovery.”
Alastair Sim, Director of Universities Scotland, said:
“Talented people are the very essence of what universities are about. That means attracting the best teachers and researchers whether they are from down the road, the other side of Scotland or from across the world. The temporary cap on skilled workers is already putting a strangle-hold on universities, which comprise one of Scotland’s key industries. Permanent restrictions on the recruitment of international talent will stifle Scotland’s ability to be an international university-driven hub for research and development.”