Is this the end of the shortage occupation list?

The Migration Advisory Committee has recommended that the ‘shortage occupation list’ is abolished in the first review since the Covid-19 pandemic, citing ‘diminishing’ benefits.

What is the shortage occupation list?

The shortage occupation list is the list of skilled jobs for which local workers are in ‘shortage’.  The list is designed to help businesses fill vacancies by reducing the barriers to entry to the UK though:

  • Lower visa application fees apply for roles on the shortage occupation list
  • Employers can pay workers less (80% of the role’s usual rate, capped at a minimum of £20,960)

The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) are an independent group of economists that makes recommendations to the government including which occupations should appear on the list. Although its recommendations are not binding, they are influential.

The report

The committee highlighted that low-paid roles are more likely to result in the exploitation of migrant workers and may lead to a net cost for the UK long-term. Indeed, it may seem counterintuitive that the most in-demand jobs would require a lower salary under the Immigration Rules.

The MAC found that women are more likely to be paid below the going rate than men, where that is an option.

Other important recommendations include:

  • The name is misleading and the list should be renamed as Immigration Salary Discount List (ISDL)
  • The salary discount should be abolished
  • Asylum seekers should be able to work in any job, not just roles on the Shortage Occupation List
  • Alternatively, asylum seekers should be able to work in any job eligible for Skilled Worker sponsorship
  • Eight occupations should feature on the UK-wide list including lab technicians, care workers, some construction roles and animal care services
  • For the Scotland-only list, it recommended fishing and forestry managers and boat and ship builders should be included

The full report is available here: Review of the Shortage Occupation List 2023.