18 May 2018

  |  CBI Scotland

News

CBI Scotland host Westminster roundtable on post-Brexit immigration policy

The CBI Scotland team met with MPs and officials in Westminster to outline Scottish business priorities for accessing skills and labour post-Brexit. 

CBI Scotland host Westminster roundtable on post-Brexit immigration policy

With access to talent continuing to prove one of the biggest challenges facing business in Scotland, the CBI Scotland team convened a special cross-party briefing in Westminster to discuss the UK’s post-Brexit immigration system and how this would affect companies north of the border.

An audience of more than 25 parliamentarians and government officials, including Scottish MPs and representatives from the Home Office, Scotland Office and HM Treasury, joined the team to discuss the scale of the challenge ahead and how important it is to ensure Scottish businesses can access the skilled and labour they need to succeed.

Addressing concerns that the post-Brexit immigration system might make it more difficult for firms to access talent, CBI Scotland Director Tracy Black outlined three overarching priorities for the Scottish business community:

  1. Businesses need frictionless access to highly skilled migrants, not just graduates. Highly skilled migrants make irreplaceable contributions to our economy and should therefore be welcomed rather than restricted.
  2. Immigration is not just a skills issue. Access to labour from overseas is critical to a number of sectors and we need a system that continues to provide a route for European labour to come to Scotland, not just the so-called “brightest and best”.
  3. Businesses would be best served by a single, UK-wide immigration system – provided it is flexible enough to meet Scotland’s needs. The majority of Scottish companies view preserving the UK single labour market as a priority and don’t want additional burdens. However, Scotland faces a number of demographic challenges that makes including an element of flexibility for Scotland seem like the most common-sense approach to most firms.

At the event, the CBI Scotland team were joined by Keith Anderson, Chief Executive of ScottishPower, Ferdinand Von Prondzynski, Principal and Vice Chancellor of Robert Gordon University, and Jonathan Muirhead, Chairman of Scottish Leather Group. Each outlined the important role that EU nationals play in the day-to-day operations of their respective organisations and what their key priorities are for future immigration policy.

In what was an informative and constructive discussion, Jonathan Muirhead made the vitally important point that there is a need for business and government to work together to better illustrate the benefits of immigration to the public being particularly well received.

While business recognises that the economic benefits of migration have not been felt universally and that there remains a need to address public concerns, there is confidence that these issues can be addressed whilst simultaneously developing a system that not only works for all parts of the UK, but which recognises the specific needs of Scottish businesses.

In the coming months, CBI Scotland will continue to work with members to ensure the Scottish business voice is heard in the debate about the UK’s post-Brexit immigration system.