Brexit (Shortage Occupations)

– in the Scottish Parliament at on 28 April 2022.

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Photo of Christine Grahame Christine Grahame Scottish National Party

Borders Buses has had to restrict its timetables—an essential service in my rural constituency—because of a shortage of bus drivers following Brexit. The United Kingdom Government refuses to place bus drivers on its shortage occupation list, as the UK Migration Advisory Committee does not consider that the occupation meets the threshold. That is completely wrong. Does the First Minister agree?

Photo of Nicola Sturgeon Nicola Sturgeon Scottish National Party

Christine Grahame highlights an issue that is relevant to her local authority area, but it is sadly all too evident in other areas and industries. We are experiencing shortages of bus drivers and haulage drivers, as well as workers from many parts of the food and drink industry, the health service and social care.

As we warned, Scotland is paying the price for a Brexit that we did not vote for. Despite repeatedly asking for a formal role in determining in what occupations there is a shortage in the devolved nations, we have been denied that and so we have been unable to ensure that bus drivers are included on the shortage occupations list. I understand that the UK Government will review that list later in the year and we have asked for full involvement in that process.

We have also set up our own group, which includes the operators, the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities and other public agencies to find ways of resolving such workforce issues. Those issues have been caused by Brexit. They are the fault of the Conservative Government and it is high time that it took action to address them.