MAC Recommends 21 Roles for UK Shortage Occupation List

skilled worker visa minimum salary threshold


The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) has now completed its rapid review into the UK’s Shortage Occupation List (SOL), publishing recommendations on roles to be included on the reformed Immigration Salary List (ISL).

The MAC was commissioned by the Government earlier this year to carry out a fast-tracked review in advance of significant increases to the Skilled Worker salary thresholds taking effect from April 2024.


Key points from the MAC rapid review

The Immigration Salary List plays a crucial role in the Skilled Worker visa route, determining which occupations receive a reduced salary threshold, making them more accessible for international workers. The MAC asserts that its recommendations attempt to mitigate potential recruitment challenges for specific occupations, while balancing the need to attract skilled workers with concerns about potential downward pressure on wages in some sectors.

The MAC has made the following recommendations:


Occupations to be included on the Immigration Salary List

The MAC recommends that 21 occupations are included on the ISL.

The recommendations remain the same as those previously made by the MAC in October 2023:

  • Managers and proprietors in forestry, fishing and related services: SOC code 1212, Scotland only, only “fishing boat masters”
  • Laboratory technicians: SOC code 3111, UK wide, must have three or more years’ experience
  • Pharmaceutical technicians: SOC code 3212, UK wide
  • Boat and ship builders and repairers: SOC code 5235, Scotland only
  • Stonemasons and related trades: SOC code 5312, UK wide
  • Bricklayers: SOC code 5313, UK wide
  • Roofers, roof tilers and slaters: SOC code 5314, UK wide
  • Construction and building trades not elsewhere classified: SOC code 5319, UK wide, only “retrofitters”
  • Animal care services occupations not elsewhere classified”: SOC code 6129, UK wide, only “racing grooms”, “stallion handlers”, “stud grooms”, “stud hands”, “stud handlers” and “work riders”
  • Care workers and home carers: SOC code 6135, UK wide, private households or individuals (other than sole traders sponsoring someone to work for their business) cannot sponsor skilled worker applicants in non health and care worker eligible jobs
  • Senior care workers: SOC code 6136, UK wide:

Occupations that have now also been recommended for the list in light of the increased salary thresholds:

  • Chemical scientists: SOC code 2111, Scotland only, only jobs in the nuclear industry
  • Biological scientists: SOC code 2112, UK wide, all non-health and care worker eligible jobs
  • Social and humanities scientists: SOC code 2115, UK wide, only archaeologists
  • Artists: SOC code 3411, UK wide
  • Dancers and choreographers: SOC code 3414, UK wide, only skilled classical ballet dancers or skilled contemporary dancers who meet the standard required
  • Musicians: SOC code 3415, UK wide, only skilled orchestral musicians who are leaders, principals, sub-principals or numbered string positions, and who meet the standard required
  • Arts officers, producers and directors: SOC code 3416, UK wide
  • Graphic and multimedia designers: SOC code 2142, UK wide
  • Welding trades: SOC code 5213, UK wide, only high integrity pipe welders, where the job requires 3 or more years related on-the-job experience
  • Carpenters and joiners: SOC code 5316, UK wide


Salary discount

According to the MAC, its primary consideration was the potential economic impact of excluding certain occupations from the ISL due to the planned increased salary thresholds. One of the benefits of a role being on the shortage list is the availability of the salary discount, but as this is due to be abolished, the MAC raises the concern that the new higher salary threshold “substantially weakens the rationale for not being able to pay below the occupation-specific threshold”, and puts to the Government to consider this specific implication of the proposed threshold increase.


Considerations for employers

The final decision on which occupations to include on the ISL rests with the Government. If the recommendations are accepted, this will be welcome news for the healthcare sector in particular, with roles such as nurses, midwives, and clinical psychologists to be added.

The MAC also states that a full review of occupations for the ISL would not be possible without the Government first identifying what the remaining benefits to the list are. We may well see the MAC commissioned to investigate this aspect of the list further.

As such, we await confirmation of the next steps from the Government.


Need assistance?

DavidsonMorris are UK immigration specialists. For advice on the latest changes to the list of UK shortage occupations, or on any aspect of visa sponsorship and overseas recruitment, contact us.

Last updated: 26 February 2024


Founder and Managing Director Anne Morris is a fully qualified solicitor and trusted adviser to large corporates through to SMEs, providing strategic immigration and global mobility advice to support employers with UK operations to meet their workforce needs through corporate immigration.

She is a recognised by Legal 500and Chambers as a legal expert and delivers Board-level advice on business migration and compliance risk management as well as overseeing the firm’s development of new client propositions and delivery of cost and time efficient processing of applications.

Anne is an active public speaker, immigration commentator, and immigration policy contributor and regularly hosts training sessions for employers and HR professionals

About DavidsonMorris

As employer solutions lawyers, DavidsonMorris offers a complete and cost-effective capability to meet employers’ needs across UK immigration and employment law, HR and global mobility.

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Legal Disclaimer

The matters contained in this article are intended to be for general information purposes only. This article does not constitute legal advice, nor is it a complete or authoritative statement of the law, and should not be treated as such. Whilst every effort is made to ensure that the information is correct at the time of writing, no warranty, express or implied, is given as to its accuracy and no liability is accepted for any error or omission. Before acting on any of the information contained herein, expert legal advice should be sought.

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