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MAC publishes report recommending expanded shortage occupation lists

07 October 2020

The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) has recommended a significant expansion of the occupations deemed to be in shortage for the purposes of sponsorship under the new Skilled Worker category, which will replace Tier 2 (General) from 1 January 2021. The Home Office will now need to consider the recommendations and finalise the Immigration Rules for Skilled Workers.

The report was published on 29 September 2020. In it, the MAC has erred on the side of being more willing to recommend some occupations for inclusion on the shortage occupation lists (SOLs) on the basis it is sensible to do so in the context of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The MAC has suggested it would be appropriate for a minor review of the SOLs to take place on an annual basis, with a major review to be scheduled every three years once the economy is no longer affected by the pandemic. New occupations could be added following a minor review, and others flagged for removal but not actually removed. Occupations at risk of removal would however be flagged. A major review would involve a full assessment of all occupations. This would replace the current ad hoc approach with a predictable schedule of reviews, providing more timely responses to changing labour market conditions and more predictability for employers.

What benefit will there be to an occupation being accepted as being in shortage?

In general, rather than being paid at least the higher of either £25,600 or the going rate for their occupation, migrants filling shortage occupation roles will only need to be paid at least the higher of £20,480 or 80 percent of the going rate for their occupation. Lower rates also apply for occupations covered by a national pay scale and to individual migrants who have a PhD that is relevant to their role or who fall within the definition of being a ‘new entrant’ to the labour market.

Employers outside of the highest earning cities in the UK will find it more affordable to sponsor individuals in shortage occupations under Skilled Worker than under the present Tier 2 (General). The overall cost of sponsorship will still be high however, so some employers may opt instead to wait for a candidate who does not require sponsorship, or to offshore or eliminate roles through business restructuring. 

What occupations are recommended for deletion?

Chefs are not considered to be appropriate for continued recognition at the present time, but the position will be reviewed in the MAC’s proposed 2021 report. This RQF level 3 occupation will be eligible for sponsorship under the Skilled Worker route, however employers will have to pay at least £25,600 to do so, which represents a wage level at the 70th percentile for this occupation. Once the economy has recovered from the effects of the pandemic, it is likely that employers will ask for chefs to be added back to onto the list as it will in many cases be uneconomical to sponsor them otherwise.

What occupations are recommended for inclusion?

The new Skilled Worker route will cover occupations from RQF level 3 (A-level equivalent) and higher, whereas Tier 2 (General) only covers occupations from RQF level 6 (degree level equivalent). It is therefore not surprising that the suggestion is to significantly expand the lists at the present time.

If accepted by the Home Office, the occupations recognised as being in shortage would rise from approximately 9 percent of total UK employment to approximately 14 percent.

The bulk of the newly recommended occupations fall within RQF levels 3 to 5. The Scotland-only list has been flagged for expansion, and new lists for Wales and Northern Ireland have been recommended for the first time.

At least initially, the MAC recommends retaining all the currently recognised shortage occupations at RQF level 6 or above. In addition, three new occupations (health services and public health managers and directors, pharmacists and physiotherapists) have been considered suitable for inclusion on the UK-wide list. One new RQF level 6 occupation, Health professionals n.e.c, has been recommended for the Wales-only list, which covers job titles such as audiologist, dental hygiene therapist, dietician-nutritionist, family planner, occupational health adviser and paramedical practitioner.

Senior care workers, nursing assistants and a range of other health occupations are reluctantly recommended for recognition as being in shortage. The MAC’s view is that although it would be better for wage funding to be increased to address lack of staff to fill these roles, the end of free movement for EEA/Swiss nationals and their family members will place significant pressure on the social care sector if this does not happen soon, or at all. Employers of senior care workers should however be aware that Home Office is likely to heavily scrutinise whether a particular migrant’s duties and responsibilities meet the definition of being a ‘senior’ carer.

Two occupations have been recommended for ‘upgrade’ to RQF level 3, meaning that they will be eligible for sponsorship under the Skilled Worker route. These are vent chick sexers and deckhands on large fishing vessels of 9 metres and above. Deckhands have also been recommended for inclusion as a shortage occupation.

Below is a listing of the new occupations recommended for inclusion. These are in addition to the occupations currently recognised at RQF Level 6 and above as set out in the Immigration Rules, Appendix J.

New inclusions to the UK-wide shortage occupation list

Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) code and description

Job titles included on the United Kingdom Shortage Occupation List and further criteria

1181 Health services and public health managers and directors

All jobs in this occupation code

1242 Residential, day and domiciliary care managers and proprietors

All jobs in this occupation code

2213 Pharmacists

Alljobs in this occupation code

2314 Secondary education teaching professionals

Secondary education teachers in all modern foreign languages are now recommended rather than just teachers of Mandarin

3111 Laboratory Technicians

Alljobs in this occupation code

3131 IT operations technicians

Alljobs in this occupation code

3412 Authors, writers and translators

Interpreters only

3539 Business and related associate professionals n.e.c.

Only Data Analysts andBusiness Analysts

3565 Inspectors of standards and regulations

Only Meat Hygiene Inspectors (also known as Official Auxiliaries)

5112 Bricklayers and masons

All jobs in this occupation code

5119 Agricultural and fishing trades n.e.c.

Only those jobs in the fishing industry

5212 Moulders, core makers & die casters

All jobs in this occupation code

5215 Welding trades

All jobs in this occupation code are recommended for inclusion, rather than just high integrity pipe welders where the job requires at least three years’ on the job experience

5223 Metal working production and maintenance fitters

All jobs in this occupation code

5231 Vehicle technicians, mechanics and electricians

All jobs in this occupation code

5241 Electricians and electrical fitters

All jobs in this occupation code

5249 Electrical & electronic trades n.e.c.

Only the following jobs in this occupation code: • Fire alarm technicians • Electronics hardware design engineers

5431 Butchers

All jobs in this occupation code

6131 Veterinary nurses

All jobs in this occupation code

6141 Nursing auxiliaries and assistants

All jobs in this occupation code

6144 Houseparents and residential wardens

All jobs in this occupation code

6146 Senior care workers

All jobs in this occupation code

9119 Fishing and other elementary agricultural occupations n.e.c.

Only the following jobs in this occupation code: • Deckhands on large fishing vessels (9 metres and above) with at least three years full time experience using their skills

 

New inclusions to the shortage occupation list for Scotland

Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) code and description

Job titles included on the Scotland only Shortage Occupation List and further criteria

2127 Production and process engineers

Only Chemical Engineers within the nuclear industry

3234 Housing officers

All jobs in this occupation code

6121 Nursery nurses and assistants

All jobs in this occupation code

6122 Childminders and related occupations

All jobs in this occupation code

 

New shortage occupation list for Wales

Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) code and description

Job titles included on the Wales-only Shortage Occupation List and further criteria

2219 Health professionals n.e.c.

All jobs in this occupation code

 

New shortage occupation list for Northern Ireland

Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) code and description

Job titles included on the Northern Ireland-only Shortage Occupation List and further criteria

3234 Housing officers

All jobs in this occupation code

5112 Horticultural workers

All jobs in this occupation code

5432 Bakers and flour confectioners

All jobs in this occupation code

5433 Fishmongers and poultry dressers

All jobs in this occupation code

 

We will be taking a detailed look at sponsoring skilled workers under the new immigration system at our Immigration Law Academy on 23 and 24 November. We also offer a range of training, handbooks and onsite support in this area through our Immigration Solutions for HR. If you have any queries about this development, please get in touch with a member of the immigration team.

 

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