Lewis Silkin – Migration Advisory Committee to Review Skilled Shortage Occupations List

The UK Shortage Occupation List (SOL) is the official list of skilled occupations which the government says are currently facing staffing shortages in the UK. When employers recruit foreign nationals for a position listed on the SOL, they benefit from certain relaxations of the normal skilled worker visa requirements aimed at making it easier to meet these shortages.

The commissioning letter to the MAC was published on September 1, 2022 here. The MAC’s answer lies here.

What was the MAC asked to report on?

The MAC was asked to consider three main questions:

  • The salary requirement: Currently, the wage requirement for jobs included in the SOL is the greater of the going rate for the job, less a 20% discount, or £20,480 (subject to an absolute minimum of 10, £10 per hour). The MAC was asked to advise whether the 20% discount on the going rate should be removed. This would mean that the going rate for jobs on the SOL would be in line with those not on the SOL and the 20% reduction would only apply to the general salary threshold for sponsoring a skilled worker (from £25,600 to £20,480).
  • Existing SOL jobs: MAC has been asked to review all jobs and determine if they still meet the requirements to remain on the SOL. The reason given is that being on the SOL should only be a time-limited strategy to address labor shortages rather than having sectors permanently dependent on migration, which which could aggravate labor shortages.
  • Added new jobs to SOL: The MAC was also asked to consider whether other roles should now be added to SOL. Again, this was cautioned to ensure that the MAC first considers alternatives to migration to avoid the SOL being the first port of call for employers looking to fill labor shortages. instead of investing in solving the problems that cause shortages in their sectors, such as the lack of career development or training opportunities for domestic workers. MAC has been asked to clarify which roles it recommends adding to Level 6 of the Regulated Qualifications Framework (RQF) (c. Commissioning letter cautions against recommending roles below Level 3 of the RQF Currently the only role below RQF 3 on the SOL is care workers and home care workers in the health and care sector, this has been added due to the exceptional circumstances caused by the pandemic. that the government will only agree to include any other role below RQF 3 if it accepts that there are truly exceptional circumstances to do so.

What are the review deadlines?

The MAC was asked to report by the end of March 2023 with a view to implementing any changes in the fall of 2023. It was also asked to base its recommendations on the Standard Occupational Classification Code (SOC) system ) 2020 if possible, move away from the 2010 system, which is now outdated.

The MAC accepted the commission; however, there are currently issues with how some of the new 2020 SOC professional codes have been applied to the datasets the MAC would use to inform its recommendations on SOL. The MAC offers two alternatives:

  • Start the exam now using SOC 2010; this would mean that the occupational classification data would be outdated. The MAC sees this as problematic because the labor market has changed significantly as pandemic-related restrictions have fallen; Where
  • Postpone the start of the review until the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has investigated the data issue that has been identified with the 2020 SOC and provided an update on its resolution. The MAC could then decide to launch the commission once the issues are fully resolved or continue to use the SOC 2010 system. in the exam.

It therefore seems unlikely that the SOL revision will be ready by the end of March 2023 and that any changes will be ready to be implemented in the October 2023 updates. Under the agreed option, the MAC has requested more time but intends to report as close to spring 2023 as possible.

The MAC also intends to respond to the remainder of the questions raised in the commissioning letter as it nears the launch of its call for evidence.

What should employers consider in light of the review?

Employers should start thinking about how to participate in the CMA’s call for evidence.

  • If there are jobs that they believe should be added to the SOL, employers should start preparing the relevant evidence to show the shortage of resident labor and the need for migrant workers. The evidence must also provide details of the employer’s medium to long-term strategy to address the shortage outside of recourse to the immigration system.

  • If there are already jobs on the SOL that employers believe should not be cut, they should start preparing evidence to present to the MAC to show why the need for migrant workers continues and how the retention of those jobs in the SOL is part of their strategy to deal with the problem. shortage outside the immigration system.

If the MAC recommends removing the 20% reduction in the prevailing rate for SOL jobs and that recommendation is adopted, employers will potentially have to increase wages to comply with 100% of the prevailing rate for each SOL job (or the salary threshold SOL, according to is higher). Therefore, employers should plan for the possibility of this happening within the next two years, depending on when the MAC recommendations are released.

We are hosting our next Immigration Law Academy on November 9-10, 2022, which will include detailed on-the-job Skilled Worker training. For more information and to book, Click here. If you have specific questions about the SOL exam or Skilled Worker Visa, please contact a member of our Immigration team.

Michael A. Bynum