Migrants vital to economy

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Scotland’s 369,000 migrants from outside the UK are mostly young, economically active and highly qualified, according to new research and statistics.

One of two reports published today analyses European Economic Area (EEA) and non-EEA migrants and, for the first time, takes into account the 460,000 migrants born in the rest of the UK.

At least 50 per cent of people born in Scotland and all migrant groups (aged 16 or over) were in full- or part-time employment, or were self-employed.

22 per cent of migrants from the rest of the UK were retired, compared with 23 per cent of people born in Scotland. Just one per cent of recent migrants from outside the UK were retired.

Migrants from outside the UK who have been in Scotland for a longer period of time are more likely to identify their primary ethnicity as ‘Scottish.’

A further report examines the impacts that migrants and migration have had on Scotland’s economy, labour market, public services, communities and culture. Key points include:

  • Migrants, particularly recent migrants, are younger than the general Scottish population, economically active and healthy.
  • Europeans are also less likely to claim out-of-work benefits than people born in the UK.
  • Many sectors of the Scottish economy are reliant on migrant labour, including the NHS.
  • European migrants, particularly those who have moved to the UK in recent years, make a more positive contribution to the public purse, in terms of the taxes they pay and the costs of public benefits and services they receive, than migrants from outside Europe and people born in the UK.

Minister for International Development and Europe Alasdair Allan said:

“These statistics and the impact report confirm the long standing view of the Scottish Government that our migrant workforce make positive contributions to our economy and local communities.

“Many sectors of the Scottish economy are reliant on migrant labour, which helps meet demand for labour, and also address skills shortages.

“It is extremely important that we remain part of the European family, so that we can continue to have access to the European Single Market, and access to the free movement of people who may wish to live and work here. Our priority is to protect all of Scotland’s interests and we are considering all possible steps to ensure Scotland’s continuing relationship with the EU.”