Report says Scotland's Fresh Talent could cause problems

The Scotsman.com reports that a recent report says Scotland's high-profile drive to attract migrants to Scotland is threatening to spark racial problems because agencies are failing to help new arrivals integrate into society. The information was printed in a new report by the Commission for Racial Equality.

Scotland's First Minister Jack McConnell initiated the Fresh Talent program, which is designed to attract skilled foreign workers to Scotland.

The Commission for Racial Equality concludes that ministers need to do much more to help prepare migrants for life in Scotland and prepare Scottish communities for the influx of foreign workers.

Otherwise, it warns, the "latent racism" in many parts of Scotland will spark anger, resentment and a potentially serious backlash.

The report, Broadening Our Horizons - Making Fresh Talent Work for Scotland, says that racist attitudes still thrive in some parts of Scotland, claiming that 10 percent of Scots believe there is "nothing wrong in attacking people from another ethnic background". The authors say Fresh Talent's focus on attracting highly skilled professionals from outwith Scotland ignores the pools of labour already here which are going to waste.

The CRE's report states:

"New arrivals are coming to our country every day; refugees, economic migrants and their families. They too can make a vital contribution to our country's economic and social life, yet the Fresh Talent initiative does not appear to be concerned with helping them to settle or ensuring they can maximise their potential within our society. Integrated societies do not emerge by themselves, and unless we proactively deal with the implications of adopting a pro-immigration strategy, new migrants to Scotland will experience the same difficulties as previous generations. Their reality is a Scotland where one in ten Scots believe that there is nothing wrong with attacking people from another ethnic background; a Scotland where 43 per cent of people do not think terms like 'Paki' and 'Chinky' are racist; a Scotland where almost 40 per cent of people believe that there is a real danger of race riots occurring soon and where 68 per cent of people want to keep immigration low. The Executive may understand the benefits of increased immigration, but we are not certain that the wider public is ready for it."

This is the latest in a series of surveys which claim to have revealed the extent of racism in Scotland. A poll last year by the market research group MRUK found that one-third of Scots did not think a welcome should be extended to those who come to live and work in Scotland.

A spokesman for the Scottish Executive said ministers were already taking action to address racism in Scotland, and were working to address the potential problems flagged up in the report.

"The recommendations in the report cover a number of policy areas, and indeed in many cases we are already taking forward work on the same lines as is suggested by the CRE," he said.

But Jim Mather, for the SNP, said he did not believe Scotland was as racist as the CRE suggested. He said he had seen eastern European workers come to the Highlands, where they had been welcomed into local communities.

Mr Mather said: "I think Scotland is a great place for people who come here and roll up their sleeves and work. From a Highland perspective, I have seen young Poles, Bulgarians and others integrated in the Highlands precisely because they are doing jobs that people locally are not willing to do and they are appreciated for it."