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The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) has issued a call for evidence to hear views on potential changes to the shortage occupation list. The deadline to respond is 26 May 2023 and this will be of interest to a number of sectors – such as hospitality and manufacturing – that are struggling to fill vacancies.
Not all job roles can be sponsored for visas. As the name suggests, the Skilled Worker Visa is only available for certain roles that meet both skill and salary thresholds. The shortage occupation list is a list of job roles for which there is a shortage of skilled labour in the UK and where it has been deemed to be sensible to fill those shortages with migrant workers through a work visa.
The occupations on the list are given a number of useful dispensations, including, in certain cases:
The third point is particularly useful and has been used recently in the inclusion of care workers on the shortage occupation list due to the shortages in that field. The lower salary and cost can be useful in certain circumstances but since the monthly cap on visas has been suspended it is now less important than it used to be for a role to be included on the shortage occupation list.
Nevertheless, certain industries will no doubt feel that the shortages in their sector are such that they could benefit from a role or roles being included on the shortage occupation list. This is their opportunity to make their case to the MAC.
The UK Immigration system for Skilled Workers is based exclusively on the occupation level, not the relevant sector. Therefore, all evidence submitted must be specific to a case that either an individual, or all occupations in a Standard Occupation Code, are in shortage. To satisfy the requirement that a role “requires substantial training/qualifications and prior experience” businesses and industry experts must demonstrate this has severely limited the pool of UK applicants who are unable to fill vacancies.
The MAC must be satisfied that organisations in a specific industry have exhausted all routes within reason to secure domestic recruitment. A comprehensive explanation accompanying the reasons for difficulty in hiring from the UK pool is advisable.
Examples of evidence may include;
The MAC will also consider whether there is any significant public or social value and the likely impacts of shortage in the occupation in question.
For instance, from 15th February 2022, Social Workers, Care Assistants and Home Carers were included in the Shortage Occupation List. The Home Office considered this was in the UK’s economic interest, preventing harm to other sectors which were at risk from a rise in workers leaving or reducing their hours to take on caring roles for family members.
Notably, where organisations are just beginning to invest in programs for driving skills domestically in a particular occupation, the MAC has advised to refrain from making a case during this consultation period.
The MAC expect to submit the report in autumn 2023, depending on the amount of evidence submitted for consideration. The intention is for the MAC to undertake a major review of the Shortage Occupation List every three years, with a minor review every year. The latter will focus on occupations where there have been new evidential developments to argue for their inclusion on the shortage occupation list. Industries such as manufacturing and hospitality that are struggling to fill roles should consider responding to the MAC’s call for evidence to ensure that their concerns are considered.
This article has been produced for general information purposes and further advice should be sought from a professional advisor. Please contact our Business Immigration Team at Cleaver Fulton Rankin for further advice or information.