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Last Updated: Thursday, 12 August, 2004, 09:21 GMT 10:21 UK
Cancer expert seeks Fresh Talent
Sir David Lane
Sir David Lane will spend two years in Singapore
A leading cancer specialist has been appointed as Scotland's first Fresh Talent ambassador as he prepares to take up a new post in Singapore.

Sir David Lane has been asked to persuade talented young people to come and work in Scotland during his two-year sabbatical from Dundee University.

First Minister Jack McConnell said he was a "natural choice" to publicise the country's "cutting edge" research.

However, critics said the appointment showed "Lewis Carroll-like logic".

The Fresh Talent initiative was launched by the first minister earlier this year to address the skills shortage caused by Scotland's declining population.

Research group

It aims to bring 8,000 new people to the country each year in an effort to prevent the population falling below five million by 2009.

Sir David's appointment as the first ambassador for the initiative was announced on Thursday.

He is currently director of the Cancer Research UK Transformation Research Group at Dundee University.

However, he is taking a two-year sabbatical to become executive director of the Institute of Molecular and Cellular Biology (IMCB) in Singapore.

Jack McConnell
We want our own Scottish talent to be able to go abroad, gain new skills, forge new relationships and then bring them home with them
Jack McConnell
First Minister
During that time he will aim to build links between the IMCB and Dundee University and between Scotland and Singapore.

Mr McConnell said: "For many years he has been putting Scotland on the map as the home of some of the most exciting research into that most terrible of diseases, cancer.

"His reputation and his work have attracted some of the world's brightest and best to our country.

"His new ambassadorship will mean that he can continue to do so while he is in Singapore."

The first minister said he would be able to "talk up" Scotland's cities and countryside while letting people know about the country's cutting edge research and excellent teaching.

Mr McConnell said the initiative was a two-way process.

'Ground-breaking research'

"We want our own Scottish talent to be able to go abroad, gain new skills, forge new relationships and then bring them home with them. That is exactly what Sir David is doing," he said.

The professor said Dundee University had already attracted talent from across the world.

Sir David added: "I am delighted to have the opportunity on my sabbatical to tell people about the current ground-breaking research taking place in Scotland and highlight the research opportunities open to international scientists."

There are about 2,000 refugees who are skilled and trained living in Glasgow
Maggie Lennon
Institute of Contemporary Scotland
However, a note of scepticism was raised by Maggie Lennon, programme director with the Institute of Contemporary Scotland, a research group which works with refugees.

"I think there is something slightly Lewis Carroll logic-like about asking someone who is quitting Scotland because he does not feel the research facilities are good enough to go abroad and then ask people to come back to Scotland."

She argued that the Scottish Executive was not making enough effort to remove the barriers which were faced by refugees already in the country who were seeking work.

"There are about 2,000 refugees who are skilled and trained living in Glasgow," she told BBC Scotland.

"Why aren't we doing more to involve them in their own economic integration?"

Ms Lennon said many employers were not familiar with overseas qualifications.

Festival brochure

She said people from overseas still encountered prejudice and pointed to a shortage of advanced English training.

Meanwhile, the attractions of living in Scotland are being promoted to visitors to Edinburgh during festival time.

The executive has placed a 20,000 advert in the Edinburgh Fringe Festival brochure.

A spokesperson said there had been a huge increase in the number of people visiting the Fresh Talent website.

Mr McConnell said Scotland needed to attract young people who could make a contribution to the country's economy.

"Thousands of them are in and around Edinburgh for the festivals every year and our advert in the Fringe programme has had a huge response, attracting exactly the right people to be interested in staying in Scotland rather than just visiting it."




SEE ALSO:
Permit promise plan for graduates
07 May 04  |  Scotland
Website targets foreign talent
07 May 04  |  Scotland
Population dip curbed by migrants
30 Apr 04  |  Scotland
'Come and live in Scotland'
06 Apr 04  |  Have Your Say


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