A pilot scheme to help migrants transfer skills gained overseas into UK-recognised qualifications will be expanded, Nicola Sturgeon has announced.
Speaking at the STUC conference in Dundee on Tuesday, the First Minister said extra funding will be invested in the project to help people who have moved to Scotland “realise their potential” and reduce a skills gap in the country.
The initiative, delivered by Glasgow Caledonian University, gives support to employers by helping skilled migrants transfer prior training into qualifications in the UK across key sectors such as social care, construction, engineering, IT and hospitality.
It is estimated the scheme has already helped 40 migrants and refugees, with another 40 people expected to take part in 2019/20.
The scheme is due to receive around £130,000 from the Scottish Government this year, with lessons learned from the project to be studied to see if it can be rolled out across the country.
Speaking at the conference, Ms Sturgeon said: “With all of Scotland’s population growth over the next 25 years projected to come from migration, we need to do all we can to ensure people who move to Scotland are able to realise their potential by accessing employment and addressing skills shortages, and allowing them to build their lives and raise their families here.
“This project will help to address skills shortages across some of our key sectors and remove some of the barriers migrants and refugees face when it comes to recognising overseas qualifications, skills and learning, by providing training and matching them with employers.
“In the face of EU exit uncertainty, the Scottish Government has been consistently clear that we will support people who have made Scotland their home.
“Restrictions on movement and access to workers with skills our economy needs would have a disastrous impact on many of Scotland’s key sectors and on our communities.
“It is clear that a one-size-fits-all approach to immigration is inappropriate for Scotland. We will continue to call for a tailored approach to migration that meets the needs of business and provides a welcoming environment for all those who wish to live and work in Scotland.”
Dr Ima Jackson, of Glasgow Caledonian University, said: “People often think these types of projects are simply for the individual people who have come to Scotland with skills gained from outside of the UK – and of course on one level it is – but more importantly it is for Scotland as a whole.
“It will help Scottish businesses large and small bring into their own companies the skills they need to develop and grow.
“Having a formal process which supports the recognition of skills people bring helps employers demonstrate that their company incorporates the diversity of expertise within the people of Scotland, which increasingly reflects the diversity across the world.
“What a waste it would be not to have processes to recognise the skills, ambition and hope that people bring when they migrate.
“Scotland is politically, culturally and economically stating its place within Brexit and it is taking an important stand. But that stance needs real processes behind it to support that ambition.
“The skills recognition process which is being developed and led by Glasgow Caledonian University is playing a small but important part within that wider ambition.”