KAREN ADAM: Immigrants are workplace solution and not problem
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THROUGHOUT the past year, my interactions with local businesses, organisations, and constituents from diverse sectors in Banffshire and Buchan Coast have consistently highlighted a critical issue: recruitment challenges, labour shortages, and restricted access to essential services, writes Banffshire and Buchan MSP Karen Adam.
This pervasive problem spans numerous sectors, including tourism, hospitality, food & drink, farming, fishing, the care sector, renewables, construction, the NHS, agriculture, and education. This recruitment crisis is not just a hindrance to our local economy but also severely affects our vital public services.
The dwindling working-age population both locally and Scotland at large, underscores an urgent need for an influx of individuals who can contribute to our local workforce.
Our businesses and communities need to flourish, which fundamentally depends on welcoming more people. This necessitates a practical, community-focused immigration policy.
In addressing concerns within our community about immigration, it’s vital to understand the integral role immigrants play in bolstering our local services. Often, the frustration felt over strained services is mistakenly directed at immigrants. However, it is important to realise that these very individuals are often the solution, not the problem.
Immigrants bring a wealth of skills and labour that are essential to fill gaps in our workforce, especially in critical areas like healthcare, agriculture, and hospitality. When these sectors suffer from understaffing, it directly impacts the availability and quality of servicesn. In healthcare, immigrant professionals play a crucial role, from doctors to nurses to support staff. Without their contribution, our ability to provide timely and adequate care would be significantly hampered.
Immigrants contribute to the local economy not just as workers, but also as consumers, helping to sustain local businesses. This economic stimulation is vital for the prosperity and growth of our community.
It’s essential to see immigration as a key part of the solution in addressing our service challenges. By welcoming those who come to work and live here, we are not only enriching our community but also ensuring a stronger, more resilient future.
The SNP government has been a vocal advocate for devolving immigration powers to the Scottish parliament and implementing a regional immigration strategy like Canada and Australia.
However, the UK’s insistence on a rigid, one-size-fits-all approach renders a customised immigration solution for Scotland, an elusive goal. The challenges we see in England do not reflect what is happening in Scotland.
The UK Government’s focus seems diverted, engaging in divisive political strategies rather than addressing pressing issues.
The proposal of a five-point plan to curtail immigration, including raising the visa salary threshold, is economically detrimental but also morally questionable. The UK is now facing yet another policy that exacerbates people’s struggles. My office has witnessed over 4000 cases, many reflecting the direct impact of rising energy and food costs on the vulnerable.
The Scottish Government’s recent ‘Building a New Scotland: Migration to Scotland after Independence’ paper outlines a thoughtful, economy-centric immigration strategy that prioritises the needs of Scottish communities and businesses.
This proposed framework emphasises fairness, decency, and respect, and focuses on establishing a modern, efficient immigration systemy.
Scotland’s history is rich with stories of emigration and immigration. We have been embraced by other nations and have, in turn, welcomed individuals into our towns and villages. To those who have chosen to live, work, and love here, I extend my heartfelt gratitude. Your presence is not only needed and wanted, but you are also an integral part of our community.