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MAC urges UK to expand Shortage Occupation List

The list of occupations used by the government to allocate skilled work visas should be significantly expanded says the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC). But future UK immigration rules could render the shortage occupation list redundant, applying as it does only under the current EU free movement system.

The independent public body that advises the UK government on migration matters has recommended that professions including architects, psychologists, vets and web designers be added to the shortage occupation list.

The MAC report also calls for occupations already listed on the shortage occupation list to be widened to include all roles within the category including medical practitioners and civil engineers.

The committee’s review of the shortage occupation list would expand the list from just 1% of jobs in the labour market to 9%. Currently, there are just 34 occupations and 143 job titles on the shortage occupation list.

A number of trade associations and business leaders welcomed the report and urged the government to take heed of its findings. The British Chambers of Commerce said that expanding the shortage occupation list will help firms fill vacancies.

What is the Shortage Occupation List?

The shortage occupation list is an official list of skilled occupations that are in high demand in the UK. Overseas candidates can consult the shortage occupation  list to see which job roles are in high demand before applying for a visa to work in the UK.

If the skilled labour cap of 20,700 workers is reached, then those with occupations on the shortage occupation list are given priority to enter the UK. The MAC review was commissioned after the cap was hit last year.

The shortage occupation list was introduced as part of the Conservative Party’s pledge to cut net migration to tens of thousands – a target which has never been achieved.

The skills shortage in the UK is no secret

As Brexit uncertainty rumbles on, the debate around the UK’s departure from the European Union has continued to highlight a catalogue of skills shortages in various industries.

Stricter immigration rules and a perceived hostile environment for migrants has deterred many much needed skilled workers from coming to the UK.

It remains unclear if and when changes will occur. A much-needed expansion of the shortage occupation list is a probability but there remains political pressure to maintain the current tough immigration rules as evidenced by the success of the anti-immigration Brexit Party at the recent EU elections.


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