Scot­land is en­riched when we open door

East Kilbride News - - NEWS -

Chi­nese, Caribbeans, Africans, Amer­i­cans and many more.

Over the last decades, of course, there has been free move­ment from Euro­pean Union coun­tries – and many main­land Euro­peans have set­tled here.

It works in re­verse, too – the Scot­tish di­as­pora is mas­sive, mil­lions of folks of Scots de­scent right across the globe.

The smooth run­ning of many of our ser­vices re­lies on in­com­ing work­ers who have made their homes here.

Spe­cific in­dus­tries rely on migrant work­ers who come over for a sea­son.

Fruit pick­ers: Scot­land’s soft fruit in­dus­try, largely cen­tred in Tay­side and Fife, is said to be worth about £115 mil­lion a year – Scot­land’s rep­u­ta­tion for pro­duc­ing some of the world’s best soft fruit is un­sur­passed.

These fruit farms largely de­pend on sea­sonal work­ers from cen­tral and eastern Europe to pick their har­vest.

This year saw a drop in num­bers, some fruit left to rot.

Farm­ers fear the prob­lem will get worse af­ter Brexit, de­spite a new UK Gov­ern­ment scheme which the Na­tional Farm­ers Union of Scot­land says does not ad­dress our needs.

Scot­land’s tourism in­dus­try too is con­cerned – full-time and sea­sonal work­ers of­ten form the back­bone of our tourism ser­vices.

Tourism is a huge in­dus­try in Scot­land with tourist spend av­er­ag­ing around £4 bil­lion a year.

This in­dus­try is again ser­viced by many work­ers who have cho­sen to make Scot­land their home and many oth­ers from main­land Europe who, with EU free­dom of move­ment, come with ease to ‘work the sea­son’.

If that is made so much more dif­fi­cult then they may just go else­where.

Closer to home, NHS La­nark­shire has warned there is a “very high” risk that Brexit could cause dis­rup­tion to its ser­vices, wors­en­ing staff short­ages and lim­it­ing ac­cess to spe­cial­ist medicines and doc­tors.

It’s reck­oned that about 17,000 EU na­tion­als work in health and so­cial care in Scot­land. Although that’s less than five per cent of the work­force, the pro­por­tion is much higher in some spe­cialisms.

To quote just one ex­am­ple, in the West­ern Isles there is real con­cern be­cause of the 12 NHS con­sul­tants work­ing there in 2017 – eight were from EU coun­tries out­side the UK.

NHS La­nark­shire, along with other health boards, of course, are al­ready work­ing with the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment to iden­tify po­ten­tial prob­lems.

The Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment’s cab­i­net sec­re­tary for health has writ­ten to EU staff work­ing in the NHS ask­ing them to stay on in Scot­land post-Brexit.

The First Min­is­ter has al­ready com­mit­ted to meet­ing the ad­min­is­tra­tive cost of set­tled sta­tus ap­pli­ca­tions for EU cit­i­zens work­ing in its de­volved pub­lic ser­vices.

The West­min­ster mi­gra­tion ad­vi­sory com­mit­tee re­ported re­cently, and it was very clear that when it comes to ad­dress­ing Scot­land’s par­tic­u­lar needs, the re­port is not fit for pur­pose.

It ig­nores Scot­land’s ru­ral pop­u­la­tion and sec­tors in­clud­ing agri­cul­ture, hos­pi­tal­ity and tourism, as well as health and so­cial care.

It even made the ridicu­lous sug­ges­tion that Scot­land can deal with the chal­lenges in its work­force by sim­ply rais­ing the pen­sion age! A ridicu­lous propo­si­tion. Re­cent sur­veys have clearly shown that Scots recog­nise the is­sues we are fac­ing and be­lieve that we should be able to make our own de­ci­sions on im­mi­gra­tion.

Build­ing a tai­lored Scot­tish sys­tem is the only way to meet Scot­land’s needs, and en­sure we can reap the huge ben­e­fits that im­mi­gra­tion brings.

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