Drop in overseas workers ‘extremely concerning’ for Scotland

The number of overseas workers in Scotland has fallen for the first time in five years, figures have revealed.

In 2018, a total of 198,000 workers came from non-UK nations, a drop of 21,000 on the previous year.

The figures, in the Annual Population Survey for 2018, also showed a fall in the number of European citizens working in Scotland.

There was a drop of 7.6%, going from 153,000 in 2017 to 141,000 last year.

With Scotland having a declining working-age population, External Affairs Secretary Fiona Hyslop said the fall in overseas workers was “extremely concerning”.

She said: “All of Scotland’s population growth over the next 25 years – including our working-age population – is projected to come from migration.

“A fall in the number of non-UK nationals working in Scotland is extremely concerning and illustrates the significant demographic challenges that we are facing.”

More than a fifth of EU nationals working in Scotland – some 32,000 people – are employed in either the food and drink industry or the tourist sector.

Ms Hyslop added: “Valuable contributions are made to our economy, public services and society by people from all over the world who choose to make Scotland their home.

“However, our future prosperity is under threat due to the UK Government’s ‘hostile environment’ immigration policies and their determination to end freedom of movement.”