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Personal Musings

Working in Scotland

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If you've been reading my other entries in this blog, you already know that I live in Denver, Colorado.

I went online last night and did a job search in Scotland. My motivation is this: I'm within one year of being eligible to retire. I'm seriously thinking about doing it, but I have reservations about living on a retirement income. What I would love to do would be to write my novel, be able to sell it, have it become a best-seller, and suppliment my income with the royalties so that I can spend the rest of my retirement writing more novels. Ah, but, as I mentioned in my last entry, I'm having serious writer's block.

The story I'm writing happened in Scotland in 1539. I'm an American who has never been to Scotland. I have a Swedish geneology and know nothing more than my research about the Clans and Septs. I don't know Gaelic; have never attended any Scottish games or gatherings; and have no idea which towns, villages, roads and points of interest on the map today were present, already steeped in history, flourishing, floundering, or not yet founded in the sixteenth century. I would love to be able to visit Scotland, walk (hike) through the highlands, spend time getting to know people who's families have lived for generation after generation in the same place. I would love to be able to see this place or that thing in person in order to be able to describe it and give it life in my novel.

It occured to me that if I obtained a work visa, I could spend a year or two in Scotland, soaking up everything, learning, asking questions, examining church records and studying Scottish history up close and personal. So, anyway, last night I did this job search.

Turns out there are a number of jobs available that my skills and experience would fulfill, but there's a catch. To work in the UK without being a citizen of the UK, one must fit into one of two dozen or so categories (ex: being a student in Scotland wanting to work in Scotland upon obtaining a degree, or being in the film industry, or being sponsored by a Scottish citizen to come work for them as an Au Pair or domestic worker, or being highly skilled in a speciality that Scotland is seeking, etc.) The only category that I could possibly qualify for would be the "highly skilled" worker. Now comes the interesting part.

The British Home Office wants documented proof that a foreigner is "highly skilled." According to the BHO, such documentation must be one or more of the following:
  • A degree (translation: a certified, credentialed college education)
  • A certificate of skill (translation: a certified, credentialed trade school education)

I have neither. What I do have is twenty years of progressive experience that is considered by American employers as the equivalent of a PhD in my area of expertise. There doesn't seem to be any provision in the BHO's application form for documenting this type of experience, however. The closest thing to documenting experience that the BHO offers is proof of twelve months of earnings based on the skills under scrutiny. The rub is that to meet the "highly skilled" level of earnings, an American must earn the equivalent of 40,000 pounds Sterling. That is about $2,500 more than my annual income. So close, and yet so far!

But the BHO is not satisfied with documented skill levels. Oh, no. Even should I find a way to qualify as a highly skilled foreigner, there is one further hurdle to jump. The BHO also demands that the prospective worker be proficient in the English language. Not a problem for an American, right? Wrong! Although the BHO does define the British Isles, Canada, the United States, and Australia as nations whose citizens are considered to be native English-speaking populations, being a citizen of the United States does not seem to be sufficient documentation of fluentcy in English for the Home Office to grant a work visa. Again, they have two forms of acceptable documentation:
  • One can hold a Bachelors degree in a course of study conducted exclusively in English, or
  • One can take an examination in International English and submit original (not copies) exam results to the Home Office.

Of course, if I can't qualify as a highly skilled worker, I suppose that my years raising two beautiful children and often taking care of my delightful grandchildren might qualify me to be an Au Pair, if I knew any Scot who would sponsor me.


  1. Shannanigan's Avatar
    Awww...and that sounds like such a great idea, too! Are you sure that the skilled worker profile is the only one that fits you? I think you should definitely at least visit sometime even if as a tourist... Good luck with this and with overcoming your writer's block!