Brexit could hit health and social care staff recruitment, Ben Macpherson warns

Written by Peter Urpeth on 22 March 2019 in News

Post-Brexit immigration policy threat to health and social care recruitment 

Image credit: PA

Post-Brexit immigration policy could “create a barrier to entry-level routes into health and care professions in Scotland”, migration minister Ben Macpherson has warned.

In its submission to the UK Government’s Migration Advisory Committee, the Scottish Government published “extensive evidence” on how Brexit could cause skills shortages in a range of sectors already under pressure, such as tourism, construction, financial services, agriculture and education.

The submission also warns the UK Government’s Immigration White paper, published last December, fails to address Scottish Government recommendations for policy change and instead puts forward a future migration system “which does not reflect the needs of key sectors of the Scottish economy”.

The Scottish Government has called for the UK Government’s Shortage Occupation Lists (SOLs), the jobs in Scotland which can be filled by ‘third-country nationals’, to be “revised and expanded in order to make it more flexible to take account of current and future labour shortages.”

In a separate report on the issues facing the health and social care sector, the Scottish Government warned that UK proposals for a future immigration system present a number of acute risks for the future security and sustainability of the health and social care workforce in Scotland.

The report says: “These are a result of the narrow and arbitrary lens through which the proposals seek to define ‘skilled migration’, which do not take account of the social value of public sector employment, particularly that undertaken in the health and care professions”.

Migration Minister, Ben Macpherson, said: “These papers provide detailed evidence on recruitment needs across the whole Scottish economy, with a particular focus on our vital health and social care sectors. That focus is especially important as UK immigration policy after leaving the EU could create a barrier to entry-level routes into health and care professions in Scotland. Salaries in social care, in particular, would typically not meet the UK Government’s proposed £30,000 minimum threshold, with average salaries closer to £18,000.

“Our submission also outlines how the Shortage Occupation List for Scotland could be made more flexible and responsive to the needs of the Scottish economy and public service delivery. For example, we’ve argued for some time that there should be a specific role for the Scottish Government in commissioning and determining what occupations are in shortage in Scotland. I will continue to press the UK Government to consider additional mechanisms to address the particular needs of Scotland as we engage with them on the proposals in their White Paper.”

“The fact that there is an additional Shortage Occupation List for Scotland shows that the UK Government recognises to some extent that a one-size-fits-all approach to migration is not appropriate for Scotland.”

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