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Skills in Focus Event, 20 June 2014

20 June 2014

  • Skills in Focus events

The eighth Skills in Focus event took place at the Mercure Hotel, Glasgow on Friday 20 June 2014, hosted by Paul McKelvie OBE, Chair of the Joint Skills Committee. The Skills in Focus series is intended to stimulate informed debate around current and future skills issues.

The event featured a presentation on skills shortages and the role of the Migration Advisory Committee from Professor Jonathan Wadsworth. Professor Wadsworth teaches Quantitative Methods and Econometrics at Royal Holloway, University of London. He is also affiliated with the Centre for Economic Performance at the London School of Economics and the Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration at University College London.

The event attracted senior representatives from across the skills network. The organisations represented included the Scottish Government, Scottish Funding Council, Skills Development Scotland, the Scottish Qualifications Authority, Jobcentre Plus and Glasgow Chambers of Commerce. There was also representation from individual Scottish businesses, colleges, universities and local authorities.

There is much debate around skills shortages - within the policy community and in the wider media. It is always useful to have a firm evidence base that underpins these discussions.

Professor Wadsworth began by looking at recent trends in migration to the UK and Scotland and comparing the characteristics of recent migrants in each.

The role of the Migration Advisory Committee was then outlined followed by an overview of the UK migration system and the routes available to skilled workers that are non European Economic Area (EEA) nationals. He describes the top-down and bottom-up approach used to assess and identify occupations that are skilled, in short supply, and could sensibly be filled by immigration.

Professor Wadsworth then looked at the occupations on the shortage occupation lists and analysed recent data on the number of individuals entering the UK and Scotland through these routes.

This was a fascinating insight into how robust labour market intelligence can be used in practice to inform decisions at the highest level of government.