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BREXIT BRINGS NEW OPPORTUNITY TO TARGET TALENT FOR BUSINESS
16th March 2017
The UK’s withdrawal from the European Union will result in major changes in terms of how businesses are able to access the talent they need to succeed but Scottish Chambers of Commerce believes that there is an opportunity to design a new migration system, driven by economic need and responsive to the long term plans of businesses.
Liz Cameron, Chief Executive of Scottish Chambers of Commerce, said:
At the moment, there are few certainties about what Brexit will mean for business but what we do know is that it will undoubtedly bring to an end the free movement of people between the UK and Europe that we have become so accustomed to. Migration was a major factor in the outcome of last year’s EU referendum and it seems that the UK is destined for a future where access to the UK to live and work will be regulated much more than it is today, particularly for European citizens.
However, in our view businesses should look upon this as an opportunity. The uncertainty and flux around Brexit gives us a unique opportunity to determine what the UK’s future migration priorities should look like. We believe that economic and business need must be the fundamental driver of future inward migration policy for the UK, enabling businesses to plan for the future, safe in the knowledge that government is backing them by targeting the skills that business needs to thrive and grow.
This policy should fully complement the efforts of the Scottish and UK Governments to ensure a steady supply of domestic talent from our schools, colleges and universities but should recognise that for many sectors, and across the full spectrum of skills levels, making full use of domestic talent can only ever be part of the solution.
The UK’s future use of the migration pipeline to channel talent into businesses where it is most needed would by definition be flexible, and able to address sectoral and geographical need, such as in Scotland’s digital and IT sector, where it is estimated that 11,000 new roles per year will need to be filled. It should also be able to respond to demographics. For example, Scotland’s projected population growth to 2024 is only 3.1%, compared to a projection of a 7.5% increase for England over the same period. Such a deficit, if unaddressed by migration, could have implications for Scotland’s ability to grow our economy and fund our public services.
It is time to make the case for a new migration system that works for the UK, works for Scotland and, above all, works for business. Free movement of people across Europe may have led us to become complacent about the effort that is required to target the talents that our businesses need across all sectors and all parts of the UK. We need to plan now for a system that will be focused on sourcing the right talent, wherever in the world that exists, and in the numbers that meet the demands of our economy.