Immigration not a ‘fix-all’ for population problems, says report
Immigration is not a "fixall" and politicians should also focus on retaining and improving the skills of the existing population when developing immigration policy, according to a report.
Former government adviser Heather Mccauley examined the experiences of Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the US to find what Scotland can learn on immigration.
The report, produced by think tank Reform Scotland with the Scottish Policy Foundation, states if current migration levels are maintained Scotland's working-age population is expected to stay relatively stable for the next 25 years, but if migration stops it would fall by 12 per cent.
Ms Mccauley, a former government adviser in New Zealand
and ex-civil servant for the Scottish Government, found immigration programmes in the above countries have on balance been beneficial but the size of these benefits is often small.
She also addressed the Scottish Government's Scottish visa proposal, rejected by the UK Government, which would differ from the Uk-wide systembynotincludingaemployer sponsorship requirement or a salary threshold.
She said this could be "risky" for Scotland unless it can confidently identify other criteria which predict successful settlement, as the "international experience is clear about the importance of employment for successful outcomes".
Ms Mccauley said regionally differentiated policies are "feasible" but the arguments are strongest for peripheral areas that would otherwise struggle.
The report states: "Clearly, there are particular sectors, occupations and salary levels where requirements and conditions are different to those in the UK as a whole (or the south-east in particular).
"This, however, argues for occupational or sector-specific policies rather than a lower bar for entry across the board."
It adds: "Any differential policy for Scotland that provided ongoing settlement rights would have implications for the wider UK, particularly if it involved a lower bar for entry.
"Concern about 'backdoor' entry, particularly against a backdrop of UK governments wanting to demonstrate that they have 'control' of immigration numbers, is likely to be a significant impediment to differentiation."