SNP ministers are drawing up a strategy to attract skilled renewables, life sciences and space sector workers to Scotland from other parts of the United Kingdom.

The Scottish Government is attempting to plug skills gaps in the country’s workforce as part of its 10-year economic strategy, outlined by Finance Secretary Kate Forbes.

SNP Business Minister Ivan McKee has chaired the first meeting of an industry advisory group for attracting talent from the rest of the UK.

The Conservatives have claimed that the Scottish Government’s continued pursuit of a second independence referendum, an SNP manifesto commitment, is putting off workers relocating to Scotland.

The new advisory group will help foster a strategy to recruit and retain skilled workers from the rest of the UK.

Mr McKee said: “Scotland needs to attract more working age people to meet the needs of key sectors, to raise competitiveness and to ensure the workforce continues to be a positive factor in inward investment.

“This industry advisory group will explore how best to shape a talent attraction programme which can expand Scotland’s talent pool at all levels, to give employers the skills pipeline needed to take advantage of opportunities, and ultimately benefit our economy.

“To become a competitive career destination, Scotland must match the efforts of other countries with similar challenges and ensure that we offer a high quality service of co-ordinated support to attract and retain workers and their families.”

Director of industry and enterprise at Skills Development Scotland, Gordon McGuinness, added: “An inclusive, resilient and skilled talent pool is central to Scotland meeting its economic ambitions, and SDS is committed to working with businesses so they can develop the workforce required to drive innovation, entrepreneurial thinking and productivity.

“The needs of business must lie at the heart of this approach.

“This new group will make an important contribution to enhancing partnership working and creating a talent attraction programme that strengthens and complements the existing skills support available through SDS and its partners.”

Scottish Conservative shadow cabinet secretary for finance and economy, Liz Smith, said: “It has been clear for some time that Scotland’s economy needs to be much more attractive to talented people from other parts of the UK.

“Recent Scottish Fiscal Commission data has exposed the full extent of the structural problems and the inflexibilities within the Scottish labour market which, in turn, have had serious implications for income tax revenues.

“Scottish businesses are crying out for stability and for an economic environment that is favourable towards investment and economic growth but so long as the SNP persists with talk of another independence referendum many people who might otherwise choose to come to live and work in Scotland will stay away.”

Scottish Labour finance spokesperson, Daniel Johnson, said: "Creating talking shops is not going to address the skill shortages and lagging employment rates Scotland is experiencing. After over 15 years in power- this is not good enough from the SNP.

“This is little more than another attempt to resuscitate and repackage their economic plan that was roundly dismissed as vague and irrelevant by all commentators.

“Rather than talking shops and vague plans, we need action to get people into jobs that are out of work and skill up workers into better paid jobs. At time of both labour shortages and growing cost of living crisis that is the action Scotland needs, not more political froth and spin from this SNP Government.”