Skilled Worker Visa must change to prevent fishing crew shortages says Scottish Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs, Mairi Gougeon The Scottish Government advocates for a provision in the Skilled Worker Visa requirements tailored to the needs of the fishing fleet

The Scottish Government advocates for a provision in the Skilled Worker Visa requirements tailored to the needs of the fishing fleet

Scottish Government Expresses Concerns Over English Language Requirements for Fishing Crew on Skilled Worker Visas

The Scottish Government has voiced strong opposition to the United Kingdom’s immigration policies, particularly the recent changes to the Skilled Worker Visa requirements. The concerns were raised in response to a question lodged by Ariane Burgess, Member of the Scottish Parliament (MSP) for Highlands and Islands, representing the Scottish Green Party.

In the question lodged on 11 January 2024, Burgess sought information about the Scottish Government’s representations to the UK Government regarding a potential review of English language requirements for fishing crew entering the UK on a skilled worker visa.

Mairi Gougeon, responding on behalf of the Scottish Government, stated that they are firmly against the current UK Government’s immigration approach, saying that “We have consistently called for changes to Skilled Worker Visa provision to be made to ensure that route is genuinely proportionate and accessible to all parts of the fishing fleet,” emphasising that it has fallen short of meeting Scotland’s specific needs. The recent alterations to immigration rules, particularly the substantial increase in the Skilled Worker salary threshold to £38,700, were deemed unacceptable.

Gougeon highlighted that the heightened salary threshold would impose limitations on various sectors, including seafood, hindering their ability to access the necessary labour force crucial for growth and success. The Scottish Government has consistently advocated for changes to the Skilled Worker Visa provisions to ensure a genuinely proportionate and accessible route for all segments of the fishing fleet.

The specific concern addressed in the response relates to English language requirements for skilled workers and the associated testing costs. The Scottish Government emphasised the need for these requirements to be proportionate, acknowledging the importance of adequate English language skills in ensuring vessel safety and mitigating the risk of worker exploitation within the fishing sector.

The response reflects ongoing efforts by the Scottish Government to advocate for immigration policies that align with the unique needs and challenges faced by various industries in Scotland, particularly the fishing sector. The call for proportionate measures emphasises the importance of balancing language proficiency requirements with the practical considerations of safety and fair employment practices within the maritime workforce.

 

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