On 29 May 2019, the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) published a full review of the Shortage Occupation List (SOL). This is the first full review of the list since 2013 and it contains a recommendation to expand the SOL to include a range of occupations in the health, information and engineering fields.
What is the MAC?
The MAC is an independent body that advises the Government on migration issues and the resident labour market. It has previously submitted a number of significant reports to Government on migration issues which have informed UK immigration policy development.
The benefits of the SOL for employers
Sponsors wishing to recruit individuals for a role listed on the SOL are exempt from having to conduct a Resident Labour Market Test (i.e. advertise a role for 28 days to settled workers), thereby making the Tier 2 application process much quicker. They also benefit from lower application fees and are given priority in the monthly Restricted Certificate of Sponsorship (RCOS) allocation process.
Professor Alan Manning (Chair of the MAC) confirms that to be placed on the SOL, a job must meet three requirements: skilled (are the jobs skilled to the required Tier 2 level?), shortage (is the job insufficiently resourced by the resident labour market?), and sensible (is it sensible to try to fill those shortages through migration?).
Whilst they received evidence on a number of occupations, all roles that fall within the following occupations, amongst others, have been recommended as additions to the list:
- medical practitioners,
- programmers and software development professionals,
- web design and development professionals,
- IT business analysts, architects and systems designers.
The Government will now consider the recommendations and decide whether to update the SOL in line with the same. However, it will be important for the Government to keep the SOL, and its underlying purpose, under ongoing review in light of the White Paper ‘The UK’s future skills-based immigration system’, which proposes abolition of the Tier 2 (General) cap and the Resident Labour Market Test in a post-Brexit immigration policy environment.
A copy of the full report can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/full-review-of-the-shortage-occupation-list-may-2019