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Last Updated: Monday, 20 June, 2005, 21:29 GMT 22:29 UK
Overseas interest in talent drive
Immigration centre
Talent-seekers have received thousands of inquiries from abroad
More than 5,000 inquiries have been made from overseas about a Scottish Executive project aimed at encouraging people to live and work in Scotland.

Organisers of the Relocation Advisory Service, set up under the Fresh Talent campaign, told MSPs in a report they have had inquiries from 126 countries.

Fears have been expressed that Scotland's falling population could affect public services and the economy.

Scotland's population is expected to drop below five million by 2009.

The gloomy prediction came from Scotland's Registrar General. First Minister Jack McConnell has warned that Scotland has the fastest falling population in Europe.

He has said he wanted to attract the world's "brightest and best".

Officials said that more than 2,500 people contacted them, wanting information about working in Scotland.

As many as 853 students called, while more than 40 employers contacted the service asking about business opportunities in the country.

Jack McConnell believes the policy will ease depopulation

The organisation has also been helping Scots abroad - 43 inquiries came from ex-pats interested in returning home.

Ministers launched the Relocation Advisory Service last year to give advice and information to people abroad about jobs, visas, business support and opportunities in Scottish education.

The executive has an agreement with the Home Office for a two-year "leave to remain scheme" for all overseas students who graduate from a Scottish university or gain an HND from a college.

Meanwhile, the Scottish Refugee Council is holding a job fair in Glasgow as part of Refugee Week which runs until 26 June.

The event offers refugees a chance to meet potential employers from industries ranging from retail and hospitality to construction and finance.

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