Glasgow has a history and personality rooted in migration. In recent decades those who have fled persecution and sought sanctuary in our city have made it an even more culturally rich and diverse place.

The reason why our ‘People Make Glasgow’ branding is so effective is because it is true. Our citizens, from wherever they may trace their cultural and ethnic origins, are our greatest asset. They have been pivotal in our 21st century renaissance, are why we can compete with the world’s leading cities for international events and why overseas investors and major firms are attracted to Glasgow.

But now is the time to step this up. Glasgow has seen a return to population growth after many decades of decline, and as many as possible of our citizens need to be economically active. Improving productivity across the board is key to our inclusive growth ambitions, growth where all our citizens benefit.

At the same time, we are busy attracting more business and investment into Glasgow but know from recent data that we have skills shortages in social care, construction, finance and digital. As we continue to develop the skills base within our communities it makes perfect sense to utilise a work force that is there, ready and willing to work. For the good of Glasgow’s economic well-being, we must mobilise our migrant workforce. And that includes asylum seekers.

Our economy needs skilled workers. Our migrant and refugee population helps provide that. It’s that simple.

That is why in the past week we have applied to the UK Government to become the first UK city to introduce changes to the asylum process. The changes would impact on a range of areas within the asylum system and allow us to better assist some of the most vulnerable people seeking asylum in the UK and in our city.

The key reform we are championing is to allow asylum seekers dispersed to Glasgow to work here, from six months after their asylum claim has been submitted until final determination of their application.

The benefits are multiple. They would afford people dignity and enable them to use their skills to support themselves. And they would ease pressure on local social care services, with asylum seekers having the opportunity to largely support themselves.

Our partners in the asylum dispersal system tell us that every day they engage with men and women seeking refugee protection who are desperate to work, to contribute their talents and skills and play a full part in Scottish society.

Given the on-going shortages in several key sectors, the UK Government’s continuing exclusion of often highly skilled asylum seekers from the workplace makes no sense for anyone. If our push for reform is successful we will encourage employers not to overlook this valuable pool of skills and talent.

The recommendations to UK ministers were put forward by a multi-agency taskforce which includes the City Council, the Scottish Government, the Scottish Refugee Council, COSLA, the Home Office and Glasgow and West of Scotland Housing Forum. It was set up last summer amid concerns about planned evictions of refused asylum seekers in the city, which are on hold due to legal challenges.

As Evening Times readers will recall, to use my phrase from a Westminster committee appearance, Glasgow “went tonto” at the prospect at these evictions. It would be a tremendous boost if we could harness even a fraction of that energy from last summer in support of our aims.

Of course, this is not and will never be a substitute for ensuring our host communities have the skills and knowledge to be economically active. Inclusive growth is my number one priority.

But where we have an economic need, where Brexit threatens our skills base and population growth and where we have a ready supply of skills we should utilise these. And we should give asylum seekers the dignity they deserve through providing for themselves and their families.

For Glasgow to thrive, opportunities and participation in city life for all is paramount.