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MAC publishes Review of the Shortage Occupation List 2020

The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) has published its Review of the Shortage Occupation List for the UK for 2020.  The report examines which occupations are in shortage and makes recommendations as to which occupations should be included in the shortage occupation list.

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:

  • engineering geologist
  • hydrogeologist
  • geophysicist

The following jobs in the oil and gas industry:

  • geophysicist
  • geoscientist
  • geologist
  • 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: 

  • Archaeologists

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 

2212 Psychologists 

2213 Pharmacists 

2216 Veterinarians 

2221 Physiotherapists 

2222 Occupational therapists 

2223 Speech and language therapists

2231 Nurses 

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

2431 Architects 

2442 Social workers 

2461 Quality control and planning engineers 

3111 Laboratory Technicians 

3131 IT operations technicians 

3213 Paramedics 

3411 Artists 

3412 Authors, writers and translators – limited to:

  • Interpreters

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:

  • Data analyst
  • 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

5431 Butchers 

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.

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