Shortage Occupation List update – MAC Report 3rd October 2023
In their recent report published on 3rd October 2023, Migration Advisory Committee listed a number of recommendations in relation to UK Shortage Occupation List. Those recommendations are for the UK government to consider. Some of them, such as addition of 5 construction Soc Codes to Shortage Occupation List, have already been implemented by the government.
The MAC recommendations if implemented by the government, will have significant impact on the Shortage Occupation List and UK skilled work visas in general. Please read the details further below.
Recommendations from MAC – Shortage Occupation general important points to note
Soc Code 6145 and Soc Code 6146, Care workers and Senior care workers are recommended to remain on the UK-wide SOL. MAC will provide comment on the use of immigration system by these occupations, and the health and social care sector more generally, in their upcoming 2023 Annual Report.
Going rate discount removal & exclusion of pay scale occupations – MAC was asked to consider excluding occupations where there was a “negligible benefit” of being on the SOL. MAC recommends removing the existing “going rate” discount benefit from the SOL. At present, employers can pay a discounted going rate (80% of the full rate) or the SOL general threshold of £20,960, whichever is higher, when recruiting for an occupation on the SOL.
Given the main benefit of inclusion on the SOL is a reduced salary threshold for employers to meet when using the Skilled Worker route, MAC have taken the decision to recommend that all occupations on a national pay scale, and occupations where the going rate is above the general threshold for the Skilled Worker route, are made ineligible for the SOL as they would only receive a “negligible benefit”.
Regarding minimum pay thresholds – MAC have consistently recommended that the Home Office should update figures every year to keep track with the labour market and avoid large one-off fluctuations. When thresholds are updated using ASHE 2023 figures, MAC would expect a very substantial rise in the general threshold and the occupation-specific going rates, in line with observed wage growth.
Youth Mobility Scheme to include more countries – MAC have long argued that expanding the YMS to more countries, in particular those located close to the UK with which UK already have close links, would be beneficial to sectors with a more fluid labour market such as hospitality. Such schemes also have the advantage of not linking the visa to the employer and so reduce the risks of exploitation which tend to be more prevalent in low-wage employment. In our other blog article ‘Youth Mobility Scheme for EU Nationals’ published a couple of months ago we provide some more information about the possibility that UK government extend YMS to EU countries.
Change of name from SOL to ISDL – Given that the only substantive benefit from being on the SOL, if the Government accepts the recommendations in the MAC report, is a salary threshold reduction for eligible occupations, MAC suggest that the Government changes the name of the SOL to the Immigration Salary Discount List ISDL to correctly reflect its function in the immigration system.
General comment from MAC – The importance of SOL is diminishing.
Recommendations from MAC – asylum seekers right to work
Asylum seekers can request the right to work if their asylum application has been pending for at least 12 months. If the right to work is granted, asylum seekers can only work in occupations on the SOL.
MAC therefore recommends that, if granted the right to work, asylum seekers should be able to work in any job. If the Government does not see fit to accept this recommendation, then we recommend that asylum seekers with the right to work should be permitted to work in any job eligible for the Skilled Worker route.
Recommendations – Soc Code 6145 care workers to remain on Shortage Occupation List
According to the MAC Report, taking account of the Government’s guidance that additions of RQF 1-2 occupations to the SOL should be exceptional, MAC did not deem any of the evidence for these occupations to meet this high bar for inclusion on the SOL.
The exception, as explained in earlier MAC publications, is their recommendation to add (keep) SOC Code 6145 Care workers once more to the SOL. Care workers and Senior care workers are recommended to remain on the UK-wide SOL.
Recommendations from MAC – UK-wide SOL recommendations
The following UK-wide Shortage Occupation List (SOL), to be implemented as soon as possible:
3111 Laboratory technicians – Professional, scientific and technical activities UK-wide – Add only Laboratory technicians with 3 or more years’ full-time experience
3217 Pharmaceutical technicians – Human health and social work activities UK-wide
5312 Bricklayers and masons – Construction UK-wide
5313 Roofers, roof tilers and slaters – Construction UK-wide
5319 Construction and building trades n.e.c. – Construction UK-wide – Add only job title “retrofitters” on the SOL
6139 Animal care services occupations n.e.c. – Other service activities UK-wide – Add only job titles “racing grooms”, “stallion handlers”, “stud grooms”, “stud hands”, “stud handlers” and “work riders”
6145 Care workers and home carers – Human health and social work activities UK-wide – Private households or individuals (other than sole traders sponsoring someone to work for their business) cannot sponsor SW applicants.
6146 Senior care workers – Human health and social work activities UK-wide
Scotland-only SOL recommendations
The following additional Scotland-only Shortage Occupation List – Recommended Scotland:
1213 Managers and proprietors in forestry, fishing and related services – Other service activities – Add only job title “fishing boat masters”
5236 Boat and ship builders and repairers – Manufacturing
NOTE: MAC have not recommended any occupations for addition to the Northern Ireland-only or Wales-only SOLs in this review.
Reclassification requests recommendations:
Recommendation Ceiling fixers 8149 (Construction operatives n.e.c.) – Other service activities – Move to SOC Code 5321 (Plasterers) – Do not reclassify – further evidence on training requirements needed.
Sommeliers 9273 (Waiters and waitresses) – Accommodation and food services – Move to SOC Code 3542 (Business sales executives) Reclassify to RQF 3+ within existing SOC Code and add to Skilled Worker route with eligibility restricted to individuals with 3 or more years’ full-time experience.