Scotland business

Business 'needs new migration system after Brexit'

Heathrow Image copyright PA

A Scottish business leader has stepped up calls for a migration system that can fill skills gaps after Britain pulls out of the EU.

Scottish Chambers of Commerce (SCC) chief executive Liz Cameron highlighted the need for 11,000 new roles each year in Scotland's digital and IT sector.

She warned that the vacancies could not be filled entirely by British workers.

Ms Cameron also called for a migration system that responded to Scotland's lower population growth rate.

She said Scotland's projected population growth to 2024 was only 3.1%, compared with a projected 7.5% increase for England over the same period.

She warned that could leave the economy growing more slowly and unable to sustain public service levels.

Ms Cameron's comments came as the prime minister prepares to get Brexit negotiations under way.

Theresa May has set a deadline of 31 March for invoking Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, getting official talks with the EU started.

'Time to make case'

In a statement, Ms Cameron said: "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."

Giving greater control over immigration to Holyrood has been a key demand of Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon in the wake of the Brexit vote.

However in January the home secretary appeared to rule out the possibility of Scotland being handed powers over immigration after the UK leaves the EU.

Amber Rudd said introducing different rules "would complicate the immigration system, harming its integrity" and cause problems for businesses.

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