MAC publishes Review of the Shortage Occupation List 2020
What is the shortage occupation list?
The Shortage Occupation List is a list of skilled roles where employers find it difficult to secure adequate numbers of workers with the required skills to fill their vacancies. Where the MAC judges that migration is a sensible response to this shortage, these jobs can be filled by migrants under the Tier 2 route more easily than others.
For employers, there are a number of advantages when recruiting for jobs on the shortage occupation list, all of which make it faster to fill vacancies:
applicants (and their families) face lower visa application fees;
roles are prioritised if the Tier 2 (General) limit of 20,700 visas is reached;
roles are exempt from the Resident Labour Market Test (RLMT) – there is no need to demonstrate that an attempt has been made to recruit domestically;
there is no requirement to meet the £35,800 salary threshold required for settlement after five years (this requirement is waived if the job title has been on the Shortage Occupation List at any point in the previous five years);
A further, less well known, benefit is that asylum seekers, who are generally not allowed to work in the UK whilst their claim is being processed, can apply for permission to work in occupations which are included on the Shortage Occupation List after spending 12 months in the UK (Immigration Rules, paragraphs 360 – 360E).
Proposed UK-wide shortage occupation list
On 17 March 2020 the Home Secretary commissioned the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) to undertake a review of the composition of the Shortage Occupation List.
The MAC has now proposed that the following UK-wide Shortage Occupation List should be implemented as soon as possible (separate recommendations have also been made for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland only but these are not covered here).
1181 Health services and public health managers and directors
1242 Residential, day and domiciliary care managers and proprietors
2112 Biological scientists and biochemists
2113 Physical scientists – limited to:
The following jobs in the construction-related ground engineering industry:
The following jobs in the oil and gas industry:
geochemist technical services manager in the decommissioning and waste areas of the nuclear industry senior resource geologist and staff geologist in the mining sector
2114 Social and Humanities’ Scientists – limited to:
2121 Civil engineers
2122 Mechanical engineers
2123 Electrical engineers
2124 Electronics engineers
2126 Design and development engineers
2127 Production and process engineers
2129 Engineering professionals n.e.c.
2135 IT business analysts, architects and systems designers
2136 Programmers and software development professionals
2137 Web design and development professionals
2139 Information technology and telecommunications professionals n.e.c.- limited to:
Cyber security specialist
2211 Medical practitioners
2222 Occupational therapists
2223 Speech and language therapists
2314 Secondary education teaching professionals – limited to:
Secondary education teachers in the subjects of maths, physics, science (where an element of physics will be taught), computer science and Modern foreign language teachers
2425 Actuaries, economists and statisticians – limited to:
Bio-informatician and informatician
2442 Social workers
2461 Quality control and planning engineers
3111 Laboratory Technicians
3131 IT operations technicians
3412 Authors, writers and translators – limited to:
3414 Dancers and choreographers – limited to:
Skilled classical ballet dancers who meet the standard required by internationally recognised United Kingdom ballet companies. The company must be endorsed as being internationally recognised by a United Kingdom industry body such as the Arts Councils (of England, Scotland and/or Wales)
Skilled contemporary dancers who meet the standard required by internationally recognised United Kingdom contemporary dance companies. The company must be endorsed as being internationally recognised by a United Kingdom industry body such as the Arts Councils (of England, Scotland and/or Wales)
3415 Musicians – limited to:
Skilled orchestral musicians who are leaders, principals, sub-principals or numbered string positions, and who meet the standard required by internationally recognised UK orchestras. The orchestra must be endorsed as being internationally recognised by the Association of British Orchestras
3416 Arts officers, producers and directors
3421 Graphic designers
3539 Business and related associate professionals n.e.c. – limited to:
Business system analyst
3565 Inspectors of standards and regulations – limited to:
Meat Hygiene Inspectors, also known as Official Auxiliaries
5112 Bricklayers and masons
5119 Agricultural and fishing trades n.e.c. – limited to:
Only those jobs in the fishing industry
5212 Moulders, core makers & die casters
5215 Welding trades
5223 Metal working production and maintenance fitters
5231 Vehicle technicians, mechanics and electricians
5241 Electricians and electrical fitters
5249 Electrical & electronic trades n.e.c.- limited to:
Fire alarm technicians
Electronics hardware design engineers
6131 Veterinary nurses
6141 Nursing auxiliaries and assistants
6144 Houseparents and residential wardens
6146 Senior care workers
9119 Fishing and other elementary agricultural occupations n.e.c. – limited to:
Deckhands on large fishing vessels (9 metres and above) with at least three years full time experience using their skills
The Migration Advisory Committee has recommended that the next Shortage Occupation List review should be a minor review to be completed in Autumn 2021.
The Government has responded that it is carefully considering the MAC’s recommended changes to the Shortage Occupation List, but it does not believe that changes should be made before assessing how the UK labour market develops post-Covid 19 and the introduction of the new Points-Based Immigration System.
The new migration system and the impact on the Shortage Occupation List
From 1 January 2021, a points based Skilled Worker route will be introduced as part of the new post EU exit immigration system. The Skilled Worker route of the points based system will apply to all workers (excluding domestic workers) regardless of nationality.
To be eligible for the Shortage Occupation List after EU Exit, a job title will need to be eligible for the Skilled Worker route of the points based system, skilled to RQF3 or above and be paid at a salary level of £25,600 or the 25th percentile of the relevant occupational pay distribution, whichever is higher. New entrants will have a lower salary threshold, which the Government’s February 2020 policy statement said can be as low as £20,480 for some occupations. Salary thresholds for workers in health and education will be based on the national pay scales.
This route will include an element of tradeable points, where any occupation on the Shortage Occupation List will be allocated 20 tradeable points. This will effectively reduce the relevant salary thresholds by 20 per cent. This reduction will be subject to a lower salary limit of £20,480, not being an occupation subject to national pay scales and to no other reduction in salary thresholds as a result of having a relevant PhD or being a new entrant.
This 20 per cent reduction in salary thresholds will fundamentally alter the nature of the Shortage Occupation List. In the new system the Resident Labour Market Test will be removed and the cap on skilled worker immigration will be suspended. This means that the key benefit to being on the Shortage Occupation List will become lower salary thresholds.