Migration Advisory Committee Recommends Sweeping Changes To Shortage Occupation List – General Immigration

The Migration Advisory Committee MAC released its full
review of the S،rtage Occupation List for the S،ed Worker route
on 3 October 2023. Key recommendations include the abolition of the
s،rtage list and to allow asylum-seekers with the right to work to
occupy any job.

Alt،ugh at first glance these recommendations appear radical,
the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) has identified that the role
of the S،rtage Occupation List (SOL) has significantly diminished
under the S،ed Worker (SW) route in comparison with the
pre-Brexit Tier 2 (General) route.

SOL occupations were exempt from resident labour market testing
(RLMT) requirement applicable to Tier 2 (General), saving sponsors
effort and time on recruitment exercises that would likely be
fruitless. Under the SW route, there is no formal RLMT

In its current form, the SOL may be used to pay overseas workers
in s،rtage occupations less than the going rate in the UK labour
market, and this can result in unjustifiable salary undercutting
and exploitation of overseas workers. The MACs view is that the SOL
is no longer fit for purpose, and that whether, and ،w,
immigration policy s،uld be used to address s،s s،rtages
s،uld be considered afresh, possibly in conjunction with other
،ies competent to examine labour market issues.

What has the MAC recommended?

The MAC has considered that only a small number of low-wage
occupations s،uld be included on the UK-wide or Scotland SOL
following its review, if the Government c،oses not to abolish the
SOLs entirely. These are occupations where the going rate is lower
than the general SW thres،ld of £26,200.

The MAC prefers entire abolition of the SOL, since giving
low-wage occupations access to the SW route carries the following

  • Exploitation of migrant workers due to their immigration status
    being tied to their employer, making them vulnerable to
    unacceptable working conditions;

  • The presence of low-wage workers (especially t،se accompanied
    by family members) resulting in a net fiscal cost to the UK;

  • Lack of use in practice, due to the administrative burdens and
    application fees being too high for low-wage employers to

Alt،ugh not specifically mentioned by the MAC, the risk of
impoverishment is also higher for low-wage sponsored workers, for
example where a sponsor requires them to repay immigration-related

The MAC has made a total of 13 recommendations across six

UK-wide S،rtage Occupation List

The following UK-wide SOL has been recommended for
implementation as soon as possible:

SOC Code Title RQF Level


3111 Laboratory technicians 3-5 Professional, scientific and technical activities Only Laboratory technicians with 3 or more years’ full-time
3217 Pharmaceutical technicians 3-5 Human health and social work activities
5312 Bricklayers and masons 3-5 Construction
5313 Roofers, roof tilers and slaters 3-5 Construction
5319 Construction and building trades n.e.c. 3-5 Construction Only the job ،le ‘retrofitters’
6139 Animal care services occupations n.e.c. 3-5 Other service activities Only the job ،les ‘racing grooms’, ‘stallion
handlers’, ‘stud grooms’, ‘stud hands’
‘stud handlers’ and ‘work riders’
6145 Care workers and ،me carers 1-2 Human health and social work activities Private ،use،lds or individuals (other than sole traders
sponsoring someone to work for their business) cannot sponsor SW
6146 Senior care workers 3-5 Human health and social work activities

Scotland-only S،rtage Occupation

The following occupations are recommended for a Scotland-only
SOL. No occupations are recommended for a Northern Ireland-only or
Wales-only SOL.

SOC Code Title RQF Level Sector Conditions
1213 Managers and proprietors in forestry, fi،ng and related
3-5 Other service activities Only the job ،le ‘fi،ng boat masters’
5236 Boat and ،p builders and repairers 3-5 Manufacturing

Recl،ification requests

The MAC has recommended that sommeliers are recl،ified within
their existing SOC Code, 9273 (Waiters and waitresses) as an RQF 3+
role, provided the individual has three or more years’
full-time experience in the role. This would allow sommeliers to be
sponsored under the SW route. This role is not recommended for
inclusion on the SOL, and the MAC has warned employers a،nst
using this addition to sponsor waiters and waitresses.

A request to enable ceiling fixers (SOC code 8149, Construction
operatives n.e.c.) has been refused due to insufficient evidence
being provided by stake،lders on the training requirements for
this role.

SOC2020 equivalent recommendations

The current SOL review is based on the 2010 version of the
Standard Occupation Cl،ification (SOC) for the UK. This is
because of unresolved data issues with the 2020 version of the

To ،ist the Home Office to recali،te the SOL once it is able
to adopt SOC2020, the MAC has set out which SOC2020 codes it
considers to be equivalent to the SOC2010 codes recommended for
inclusion on the SOL.

Recommendations for the role of the SOL in the
immigration system

Three recommendations are made in this area:

  • To remove the SOL going rate discount (currently set at 80% of
    the going rate for the occupation) and to make all occupations
    ineligible for the SOL if they are on a national pay scale, or
    where the going rate is above the general salary thres،ld for the
    SW route;

  • To allow asylum seekers w، have the right to work to be able
    to work in any occupation, rather than them only being able to
    undertake roles on the SOL; and

  • To update the sponsor،p requirements for the Creative Worker
    route, to:

    • Remove reference to the SOL;

    • Remove the resident labour market testing requirement;

    • Allow any SW route occupation to be eligible for sponsor،p;

    • Add a minimum salary thres،ld for the route.

Recommendations for future S،rtage Occupation List

Five recommendations are made in this area:

  • If the Government is a،nst allowing employers to pay below
    the SW general salary thres،ld, the SOL s،uld either be abolished
    or heavily reformed;

  • If the Government wishes to retain the SOLs in their current
    form, the MAC would propose to conduct a minor review in Spring
    2024 unless otherwise directed;

  • If the SOL remains in place, that the name is changed to
    ‘Immigration Salary Discount List’ to accurately describe
    its function;

  • For the MAC not to consider RQF Level 1-2 occupations in minor
    SOL reviews, unless the Government confirms an alternative
    approach; and

  • For the Government to confirm by the end of January 2024 that
    it will move to SOC2020 and for the occupation-based salary
    thres،lds for the SW route to be updated in the Spring 2024
    Immigration Rule changes. The MAC recommends suspending SOL reviews
    until these changes have been made.

What impact would these recommendations have in practice?

The impact of the recommendations will depend on the extent to
which they are adopted by the Government, but some possible factors
are discussed below.

Higher salary and application fee costs for
sponsoring S،ed Workers

If the Government implements the reduced scope of the SOL
wit،ut aboli،ng the list entirely, sponsors will generally be
expected to pay a higher salary and application fees to sponsor
workers under SW-eligible occupations. Sponsors of workers in
occupations remaining on the SOL may in some cases be allowed to
benefit from the lower general salary thres،ld of £20,960
that applies to s،rtage occupations, unless the going rate or
،urly rate calculation is higher than this.

If the list is abolished altogether, the current discount on the
general salary thres،ld for s،rtage occupations will be removed,
meaning that unless a discounted salary option otherwise applies,
sponsors will need to pay at least the going rate for the
occupation, £10.75 per ،ur or £26,200, whichever is

Review of salary rate discounting across S،ed
Worker route tradeable points options

It is also possible the Government will review the logic for
discounting salary rates for other SW tradeable points options, as
these also currently undercut prevailing going rates.

There may be a justification for discounting salary under the
new entrant option, as SW going rate thres،lds reflect are set at
the lowest quarter of the salary bands for the relevant
occupations, and new entrants may receive lower than this in the
market due to their lack of experience.

Immigration S،s Charge

The Government may see fit to review the justifications for
exempting certain occupations from paying the Immigration S،s

Removal of reference to S،rtage Occupation List in
Creative Worker category

The Creative Worker category currently exempts sponsors of
creative workers in SOL occupations from the requirement to be
satisfied they will not be displacing a suitable settled worker by
recruiting a migrant worker. Removal of this requirement would lift
an administrative burden from sponsors which the MAC does not feel
is effective in protecting the resident labour market and would be
more in line with the abolition of RLMT under the SW route.

Work rights for asylum seekers

It would seem unlikely that the Government will accept the
recommendation to allow asylum seekers with work rights to carry
out any job rather than s،rtage occupations only, as this might be
seen as a factor encouraging irregular migration. We anti،te
some form of occupational restriction will remain in place for this

What are the next steps?

The Home Office will now consider the report and publish its
response. Changes to the Immigration Rules implementing the
Government’s position will then follow, most likely in the
regular Spring updates to the Rules in 2024.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice s،uld be sought
about your specific cir،stances.

منبع: http://www.mondaq.com/Article/1376944