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Shortage Occupation List 2021

The UK’s Shortage Occupation List can be the source of much confusion for employers sponsoring visa workers, particularly when hiring under a sponsorship licence for the first time or recruiting for a different type of role.

It is important however for employers, HR professionals and anyone involved in your recruitment to understand the rules and application of the UK’s skills shortage list. Issues or errors when hiring sponsored workers can result in Home Office enforcement, including licence suspensions and curtailed employee visas.

 

What is the UK’s Shortage Occupation List?

The shortage occupation list is detailed in Appendix K of the UK Immigration Rules. It comprises those roles deemed by the UK Government to be in short supply within the UK resident labour market. Recommendations for roles to be included are made by the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) with a view to meeting the needs of UK businesses and better reflecting the selective nature of the UK Points Based System and sponsored visa applications.

Under the new points-based immigration system, from 2021 all non-UK resident workers must apply for a visa to come to the UK to work. The primary route is the new Skilled Worker visa, which replaces the Tier 2 (General) visa. For employers looking to sponsor skilled non-UK resident workers, a number of strict requirements apply in respect of the role being recruited for. To be eligible for the new visa, the worker must attain 70 points, covering attributes such as skills, language and salary requirements.

Where a role is on the Shortage Occupation List, 20 points will be ‘tradeable’ against a salary that is up to 20% below the relevant minimum salary threshold, in most cases £20,480, provided the role is not an occupation subject to national pay scales and that no other reduction applies (such as being a new entrant or having a relevant PhD).

The new system also sees the removal of the Resident Labour Market, which SOL jobs had in any case been exempt from, and the cap on skilled visa worker suspended, meaning the sole benefit of a role featuring on the shortage list will be the lower salary threshold.

 

UK Shortage Occupation List 2021

The current list of UK shortage occupation jobs is as follows:

Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) code and description Job titles included on the United Kingdom Shortage Occupation List and further criteria
2112 Biological scientists and biochemists All jobs in this occupation code
2113 Physical Scientists Only the following jobs in this occupation code:

The following jobs in the construction-related ground engineering industry:

• engineering geologist
• hydrogeologist
• geophysicist

The following jobs in the oil and gas industry:

• geophysicist
• geoscientist
• geologist
• geochemist
• technical services manager in the decommissioning and waste areas of the nuclear industry
• senior resource geologist and staff geologist in the mining sector

2114 Social and Humanities’ Scientists Only the following jobs in this occupation code: Archaeologists
2121 Civil engineers All jobs in this occupation code
2122 Mechanical engineers All jobs in this occupation code
2123 Electrical engineers All jobs in this occupation code
2124 Electronics Engineers All jobs in this occupation code
2126 Design and development engineers All jobs in this occupation code
2127 Production and process engineers All jobs in this occupation code
2129 Engineering professionals not elsewhere classified All jobs in this occupation code
2135 IT business analysts, architects and systems designers All jobs in this occupation code
2136 Programmers and software development professionals All jobs in this occupation code
2137 Web design and development professionals All jobs in this occupation code
2139 Information technology and communications professionals not elsewhere classified Only the following job in this occupation code:

• Cyber security specialist

2211 Medical practitioners All jobs in this occupation code
2212 Psychologists All jobs in this occupation code
2216 Veterinarians All jobs in this occupation code
2217 Medical Radiographers All jobs in this occupation code
2222 Occupational therapists All jobs in this occupation code
2223 Speech and language therapists All jobs in this occupation code
2231 Nurses All jobs in this occupation code
2314 Secondary education teaching professionals Only the following jobs in this occupation code:

• secondary education teachers in the subjects of maths, physics, science (where an element of physics will be taught), computer science and Mandarin

2425 Actuaries, economists and statisticians Only the following jobs in this occupation code:

• bio-informatician
• informatician

2431 Architects All jobs in this occupation code
2433 Quantity surveyors All jobs in this occupation code
2442 Social workers All jobs in this occupation code
2461 Quality control and planning engineers All jobs in this occupation code
3213 Paramedics All jobs in this occupation code
3411 Artist All jobs in this occupation code
3414 Dancers and choreographers Only the following jobs in this occupation code:

• Skilled classical ballet dancers who meet the standard required by internationally recognised United Kingdom ballet companies. The company must be endorsed as being internationally recognised by a United Kingdom industry body such as the Arts Councils (of England, Scotland and/or Wales)
• Skilled contemporary dancers who meet the standard required by internationally recognised United Kingdom contemporary dance companies. The company must be endorsed as being internationally recognised by a United Kingdom industry body such as the Arts Councils (of England, Scotland and/or Wales)

3415 Musicians Only the following jobs in this occupation code:

• skilled orchestral musicians who are leaders, principals, sub-principals or numbered string positions, and who meet the standard required by internationally recognised UK orchestras. The orchestra must be endorsed as being internationally recognised by the Association of British Orchestras.

3416 Arts officers, producers and directors All jobs in this occupation code
3421 Graphic designers All jobs in this occupation code
5215 Welding trades Only the following job in this occupation code:

• high integrity pipe welder where the job requires three or more years’ related on-the-job experience

5434 Chefs Only the following job in this occupation code:

Skilled chef where:

• the pay is at least £29,570 per year after deductions for accommodation, meals etc; and
• the job requires five or more years relevant experience in a role of at least equivalent status to the one they are entering; and
• the job is not in either a fast food or standard fare outlet; and

The job is in one of the following roles:

• executive chef – limited to one per establishment
• head chef – limited to one per establishment
• sous chef – limited to one for every four kitchen staff per establishment
• specialist chef – limited to one per speciality per establishment

 

 

Proposed changes to the list of UK shortage jobs

The Government commissioned the MAC in May 2020 to review the SOL, with the aim of ensuring the list supports the changes under the skilled worker route of the new immigration system. The new route sees the skill level requirement lowered to RQF3 skill level and above from 1 January 2021.

The Migration Advisory Committee published its recommendations in September 2020. 70 new jobs were put forward to be added to the list, which would increase the share of UK employment roles on the SOL from 9% to 14%. Proposed additions include senior care workers, nursing assistants and veterinary nurses. The MAC also recommended the Shortage Occupation List should next be reviewed in Autumn 2021, anticipating minor changes.

The Government, however, responded that there will be no changes until a detailed impact assessment has been made on the UK labour market following the implementation of the new immigration rules and post-COVID pandemic.

 

September 2020 proposed changes to the Shortage Occupation List

The MAC proposed the following changes to the UK Shortage Occupation List (note that separate recommendations were made for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland):

  • 1181 Health services and public health managers and directors
  • 1242 Residential, day and domiciliary care managers and proprietors
  • 2112 Biological scientists and biochemists
  • 2113 Physical scientists – limited to:
    • The following jobs in the construction-related ground engineering industry:
      • engineering geologist
      • hydrogeologist
      • geophysicist
    • The following jobs in the oil and gas industry:
      • geophysicist
      • geoscientist
      • geologist
      • geochemist technical services manager in the decommissioning and waste areas of the nuclear industry senior resource geologist and staff geologist in the mining sector
  • 2114 Social and Humanities’ Scientists – limited to:
    • Archaeologists
  • 2121 Civil engineers
  • 2122 Mechanical engineers
  • 2123 Electrical engineers
  • 2124 Electronics engineers
  • 2126 Design and development engineers
  • 2127 Production and process engineers
  • 2129 Engineering professionals n.e.c.
  • 2135 IT business analysts, architects and systems designers
  • 2136 Programmers and software development professionals
  • 2137 Web design and development professionals
  • 2139 Information technology and telecommunications professionals n.e.c.- limited to:
    • Cyber security specialist
  • 2211 Medical practitioners
  • 2212 Psychologists
  • 2213 Pharmacists
  • 2216 Veterinarians
  • 2221 Physiotherapists
  • 2222 Occupational therapists
  • 2223 Speech and language therapists
  • 2231 Nurses
  • 2314 Secondary education teaching professionals – limited to:
    • Secondary education teachers in the subjects of maths, physics, science (where an element of physics will be taught), computer science and Modern foreign language teachers
  • 2425 Actuaries, economists and statisticians – limited to:
    • Bio-informatician and informatician
  • 2431 Architects
  • 2442 Social workers
  • 2461 Quality control and planning engineers
  • 3111 Laboratory Technicians
  • 3131 IT operations technicians
  • 3213 Paramedics
  • 3411 Artists
  • 3412 Authors, writers and translators – limited to:
    • Interpreters
  • 3414 Dancers and choreographers – limited to:
    • Skilled classical ballet dancers who meet the standard required by internationally recognised United Kingdom ballet companies. The company must be endorsed as being internationally recognised by a United Kingdom industry body such as the Arts Councils (of England, Scotland and/or Wales)
    • Skilled contemporary dancers who meet the standard required by internationally recognised United Kingdom contemporary dance companies. The company must be endorsed as being internationally recognised by a United Kingdom industry body such as the Arts Councils (of England, Scotland and/or Wales)
  • 3415 Musicians – limited to:
    • Skilled orchestral musicians who are leaders, principals, sub-principals or numbered string positions, and who meet the standard required by internationally recognised UK orchestras. The orchestra must be endorsed as being internationally recognised by the Association of British Orchestras
  • 3416 Arts officers, producers and directors
  • 3421 Graphic designers
  • 3539 Business and related associate professionals n.e.c. – limited to:
    • Data analyst
    • Business system analyst
  • 3565 Inspectors of standards and regulations – limited to:
  • Meat Hygiene Inspectors, also known as Official Auxiliaries
  • 5112 Bricklayers and masons
  • 5119 Agricultural and fishing trades n.e.c. – limited to:
  • Only those jobs in the fishing industry
  • 5212 Moulders, core makers & die casters
  • 5215 Welding trades
  • 5223 Metal working production and maintenance fitters
  • 5231 Vehicle technicians, mechanics and electricians
  • 5241 Electricians and electrical fitters
  • 5249 Electrical & electronic trades n.e.c.- limited to:
  • Fire alarm technicians
  • Electronics hardware design engineers
  • 5431 Butchers
  • 6131 Veterinary nurses
  • 6141 Nursing auxiliaries and assistants
  • 6144 Houseparents and residential wardens
  • 6146 Senior care workers
  • 9119 Fishing and other elementary agricultural occupations n.e.c. – limited to:
    • Deckhands on large fishing vessels (9 metres and above) with at least three years full time experience using their skills

Do you have a question about the Shortage Occupation List? 

DavidsonMorris specialises in helping employers navigate the UK immigration rules to meet their recruitment needs. For advice on the shortage occupation list, its implications on your recruitment processes, visa eligibility, assigning SOC codes or any issue relating to hiring points-based visa workers, contact us.

The current shortage occupation list can be viewed here. 

Last updated: 5 November 2020

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