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Last Updated: Wednesday, 24 September, 2003, 13:53 GMT 14:53 UK
Plan to attract skilled immigrants
Buchanan Street
The plan will promote Scotland as a place to live
The first minister has announced moves to attract more skilled immigrants to live and work in Scotland.

Jack McConnell wants to offer practical help to people thinking of relocating and to promote Scotland as "the best place in the UK to live and work".

Mr McConnell was speaking at an event jointly organised by the Scottish Executive and CBI Scotland in Edinburgh.

The problem of attracting workers to stay in the country or to move from overseas was highlighted by the executive earlier this year.

Measures announced by the First Minister in February included better promotion of Scotland abroad.

The relocation advice service we are proposing to establish will be key to making sure that coming to Scotland is a straight forward procedure
Jack McConnell
He also said the executive wanted to work with foreign students to encourage them to stay in Scotland after they graduate.

Speaking on the BBC's Good Morning Scotland programme Mr McConnell said the new measures were key to tackling the country's declining population figures.

He said: "We need to ensure that those who do choose to come here, those that want to return, those who want to move from elsewhere in the UK, or those who want to use the work permits they have received to come in from elsewhere in the world are given the easiest possible route into Scotland.

"That is advice on housing and employment, where to live and so on, getting an education for their family.

"The relocation advice service we are proposing to establish will be key to making sure that coming to Scotland is a straightforward procedure and which can be successful and fast for those that make that choice."

Fresh talent

But the first minister rejected criticism that the proposals strayed into the area of a separate immigration policy for Scotland, a move called for by the Scottish National Party.

Mr McConnell stressed that applying for a work permit was different to applying for political asylum but both systems could deliver fresh talent to Scotland.

He said: "If you are coming to the UK, you want to make that choice and you've got that access, then Scotland is the best place in the UK to live and work..

"Scotland has got the best education system, it's got the most potential economically, we've got the best culture and social life in our cities and our rural areas."

Relocation advice

The plans include the establishment of a fresh talent implementation team within the executive, which will report to ministers at the end of the year.

The unit will provide:

  • advice on applying for and processing visas and work permits, both for employers and prospective employees such as students

  • advice for entrepreneurs, including ethnic minority entrepreneurs, who want to set up a business and information on how to go about it

  • advice on jobs, schools, universities, housing and transport for individuals and families considering relocating to Scotland.



WATCH AND LISTEN
Jack McConnell
"If you're going to come to the UK, Scotland's the best place to be"



SEE ALSO:
Call to employ asylum seekers
27 May 03  |  Scotland
Drive to bridge 'skills gap'
30 Jan 01  |  Scotland


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