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Glasgow Labour MSP Anne McTaggart has hailed the contribution of international students to Scotland and called for the reintroduction of the fresh talent initiative to encourage foreign nationals to study in Scotland.
Ms McTaggart, Scottish Labour’s Shadow Minister for Europe and International Development, made her calls during a debate at the Scottish Parliament on post-study work visas on Tuesday 24th March.
The fresh talent initiative was introduced in 2004 by First Minister Jack McConnell and the Scottish Labour-led Scottish Executive to encourage foreign nationals to study in Scotland. It was abolished by the UK Government in 2012 but Scottish Labour want it reinstated, arguing that enabling overseas students to work in Scotland after they complete their studies would help supply the confident graduates that the employers who recruit students need.
Ms McTaggart argued that foreign students have been essential to the growth of Scottish universities and stated that it was imperative that we encourage more international students to come here. She also stated her support for the removal of university students from net migration targets.
Ms McTaggart said “Immigration, especially of young people and students, is a good thing for Scotland; the benefits to our culture, economy, skills and productivity are vital to the country’s continued growth. Too often, immigration is shown in a negative light, but it is essential that we recognise its importance.
“Post-study work visas would benefit not only the education sector but the business sector. The graduates who would be able to continue to live and work in Scotland would give back to the economy and contribute invaluable skills to the workforce throughout the country.
“To meet the needs of our education and business sectors, it is imperative that we encourage more international students to come to Scotland. The Labour Party believes that international students have a significant contribution to make to our education system, and to our social and cultural life and economy, and that’s why we support post-study work visas.”
You can read Ms McTaggart’s speech here.
Scottish Labour’s Shadow Minister for Europe and International Development Anne McTaggart this week argued the case for Scotland’s continued membership of the EU and warned of the dangers of withdrawal under a Conservative Government.
Ms McTaggart spoke out during a debate at the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday 17th March on ‘Scotland’s place in Europe’.
The Glasgow MSP highlighted the significant benefits of EU membership to Scotland, including being part of the world’s largest single market which accounts for around £200 billion of exports and nearly £450 billion in investments each year.
Ms McTaggart also argued that the EU needs to be doing more to address precarious employment situations, such as zero-hour contracts which affect nearly 1.4 million UK workers.
Speaking in the debate Ms McTaggart said “At a time when countries are fighting for their right to be part of Europe and clinging on to the EU, the Conservative Party is threatening to pull the UK out of Europe. Membership of the EU gives us many benefits, and leaving it would only be detrimental to that prosperity.
“Our place in the world is not defined by being a part of Europe but it is strengthened by it. The key is to keep the UK in the EU and improve on the position so that we can maximise the progress that we can make together.
“While the future of the UK undoubtedly lies within the EU, we need to be leading the way for an improved EU rather than threatening to leave it. I believe that the EU should take the lead in issues such as tackling exploitative work practices and should recognise the need to protect public services in any trade negotiations. We in the Labour Party want fair working conditions in Scotland, the UK and across Europe.”
You can read Ms McTaggart’s speech here
Glasgow Labour MSP Anne McTaggart has welcomed Scottish Labour’s Future Fund – a new deal for Scotland’s young people, announced by Jim Murphy at Scottish Labour conference.
The Future Fund will invest £1600 for every 18 or 19 year old in Glasgow who isn’t currently at university, college or in a modern apprenticeship.
The money will be available to invest in relevant training, setting up a business, or buying work tools.
The fund will also act as a powerful incentive to employers to take on young people as they will come with £1,600 of training support.
Ms McTaggart said:
“This fund is an incredible opportunity for the young people of Glasgow. For too long our young people who aren’t in education or training have been ignored by governments in Westminster and Holyrood.
“This investment will let young people set their own path in life, giving them the money they need to invest in their future and become masters of their own destiny.
“Scottish Labour are the only party committed to helping Scotland’s young people make the most of their potential.”
Scottish Labour leader Jim Murphy said:
“Parents worry that their kids won’t have the chances they had when they were growing up. That the next generation’s horizons have become more narrow, more limited.
“Young Scots in Higher Education get an average of £1600 spent on their fees.
“But what of those thousands who don’t go to university, or who don’t get an investment through a place at college or an apprenticeship?
“They shouldn’t get left behind. They deserve the same support to fulfil their potential.
“We want to redress the balance to help those young people who want to enter the world of work straight from school.
“The Future Fund will also act as a powerful incentive to employers to take on young people who come with £1,600 of training support attached to them.”
Future Fund – £65.2m
The amount spent on average per Higher Education student per year in tuition fees is approximately £1,600
We believe that young Scots who don’t have the opportunity to go to University deserve support.
This proposal makes the same amount open to 18 & 19 year olds who are not at university, college or undertaking a Modern Apprenticeship.
Every young person will be able to receive up to £1,600 investment in training for one year. That money will be tied to furthering their skills, preparedness for work or setting up a business.
This is available for one year.
If someone attends Further Education or Higher Education or is undertaking a Modern Apprenticeship they will not be entitled to the £1,600 as they will already be benefitting from learning that will help them gain skills and boost their employment chances.
Young people could use the fund to access training courses and other learning opportunities that will help young people to boost their skills base and help their employment prospects.
Glasgow Labour MSP Anne McTaggart is joining millions around the world by signing up to WWF’s Earth Hour.
This year’s switch off event takes place at 8.30pm on Saturday 28 March. Around the globe workplaces, homes and iconic landmarks will be going dark for an hour in the world’s biggest symbolic display of care for the planet and action on climate change. In Scotland, Edinburgh Castle, Falkirk Wheel and the Kelpies are just a few of our famous landmarks marking the hour.
Urging her constituents to join in Ms McTaggart said:
“We face huge environmental challenges in the decades ahead and it’s something that governments at all levels need to take responsibility for. Issues such as illegal logging and deforestation need to be addressed imminently. I would therefore encourage Glaswegians to join together with millions of people across the globe and take positive action to protect our natural environment on 28th March.”
Lang Banks, director of WWF Scotland said:
“I’m really excited about this year’s Earth Hour and it’s shaping up to be a big one. It always delights and amazes me how Scotland gets behind the event, whether its political parties or classrooms full of children. By signing up and switching off you’re joining a symbolic display by millions around the world who care about our planet and are willing to take action, beyond the hour, to protect it.
“Its important decision makers, politicians and business leaders are left in no doubt people care about the impacts of climate change and want action.”
”This year is an important year for climate action, with world leaders being urged to make further progress on addressing global climate change in Paris in December. Closer to home, we look to all of our politicians to help Scotland deliver on its world-leading climate commitments and to play a proactive role in striving for greater ambition at a global level.”
Now in its ninth year, WWF’s Earth Hour continues to grow. Last year 162 countries and 7000 cities took part, from the islands of the South Pacific already feeling the impacts of climate change, to the Scottish Parliament and Government in Edinburgh and the corridors of power in Paris where the next UN climate negotiations will be held in December this year.
Sign up for Earth Hour at wwfscotland.org.uk/earthhour
I was delighted to be able to sponsor an event at Parliament on Tuesday 3rd March celebrating ‘wellbeing and sport for women’.
The event was held in partnership with the Wellbeing Alliance; a not for profit social enterprise who devise and implement projects to improve health and wellbeing. It aimed to highlight the achievements of women in sport as a legacy of the Commonwealth Games.
Present at the event were Scotland’s U16 Women National Basketball Team 13-14, European Championship gold medalists, who are sponsored by the Wellbeing Alliance as part of their commitment to community and elite sport, especially for young women.
It was a great opportunity to discuss the importance of encouraging more girls and young women to play and maintain a sport in Scotland.
Former Scotland international rugby hero Scott Hastings has backed proposals to introduce a ‘soft opt-out’ system of organ donation in Scotland.
He met with Scottish Labour MSP Anne McTaggart in the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday 10th March, where he spoke of his desire to see the current ‘opt-in’ system of donation move to a ‘soft opt-out’ system in an effort to address the chronic lack of organs available for transplant in Scotland.
Ms McTaggart’s proposals would mean that unless an adult had expressed an objection and ‘opted-out’ of the organ donation register, then their organs and tissue could be removed posthumously.
Scott, who was capped 65 times by his country and played for the British and Irish Lions, understands all too well the difficulties that those on the transplant waiting list face. His close friend, and former and former Watsonian Rugby team mate Iain Leslie, has been waiting a number of years for a kidney transplant without a successful match being found to date.
In view of the significant difference between the number of people on the waiting list for transplant operations and the number of organs available, Scott believes that reform is now essential.
Mr Hastings said “I was delighted to be able to meet with Anne and offer my support for her proposed Organ and Tissue Donation (Scotland) Bill.
“I’m aware that the number of people on the NHS organ donation register has steadily increased over recent years after concerted public awareness campaigns which is excellent. However, I was surprised to learn that, despite this, only 41% of Scots are on the organ donation register while 95% agree with organ donation in principle. Meanwhile, 38 people died in Scotland in 2013/14 alone as a result of a lack of available organs for transplant.
“For me, this shows that we need an urgent change of approach if we are to address the gap between supply and demand, and I agree with Anne that introducing a soft opt-out system is the best way forward.
“Organ Donation is a remarkable human gift that has the ability to ease pain and suffering, and I strongly believe that the available evidence shows that Anne’s proposed bill will help increase donation rates and save lives and that’s why I’m proud to support it.”
Anne McTaggart MSP said “It’s great to have Scott’s support for my proposals. He is a Scottish sporting legend and sadly from his own personal experience knows how difficult it can be for individuals and their families who are waiting for a transplant. Having recently received cross-party support for my proposals, I’m looking forward to introducing my proposed bill to parliament and presenting the strong evidence in favour of a change to my fellow MSPs.”