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Shortage Occupation List 2019

  • 10 minute read
  • Last updated: 6th October 2019


The UK’s Shortage Occupation List (SOL) has been amended to incorporate new roles and remove others. The changes take effect with Certificates of Sponsorship issued on and after 6th October 2019.

In this article, we summarise the main changes and, in particular, the new additions to list. You can view details of the full updated SOL here.


This article covers:


Headline recommendations include the addition of occupations in health, information technology and other STEM fields. In some cases, Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) codes already on the shortage occupation list have been expended to include all types of roles within the code.

The changes come following the MAC’s review of the SOL, which made recommendations for extensive changes to bring the list in line with current and future needs of the economy. SOL roles now cover around 9% of total employment in the UK, up from 1% under the previous list which had not been reviewed since 2013.

Employers are being urged to review the new list and consider the impact of the changes on their Tier 2 and international recruitment activity.

The benefits of inclusion on the SOL

For employers looking to sponsor skilled non-EEA workers, a number of strict requirements apply in respect of the role being recruited for. Roles that feature on the SOL however benefit from a number of exemptions to the requirements, essentially making it easier, quicker and less costly for employers to hire shortage occupation workers.

The advantages conferred on shortage occupation roles include:

  • Not having to conduct a Resident Labour Market Test (RLMT)
  • Exemption from the minimum income threshold for settlement
  • Lower visa fees
  • Priority allocation in the event the cap limit is reached


New roles on the Shortage Occupation List

Health occupations:

  • All medical practitioner roles SOC code 2211
  • All Psychologist roles SOC code 2212
  • All veterinarian roles SOC code 2216
  • All medical radiographer roles SOC code 2217
  • All occupational therapist roles SOC code 2222
  • All speech and language therapist roles SOC code 2223
  • All nursing roles SOC code 2231
  • All social worker roles SOC code 2442
  • All paramedic roles SOC code 3213

Engineering occupations:

  • All civil engineer roles SOC code 2121
  • All mechanical engineer roles SOC code 2122
  • All electrical engineer roles SOC code 2123
  • All electronics engineer roles SOC code 2124
  • All design and development engineer roles SOC code 2126
  • All production and process engineer roles SOC code 2127
  • All engineering professional roles not classified elsewhere SOC code 2129
  • All quality control and planning engineer roles SOC code 2461
  • Welding trades – only high integrity pipe welders within SOC code 5215

Science professionals:

  • All biological scientists and biochemists roles SOC code 2112
  • Physical scientists – certain roles in construction, oil and gas SOC code 2113

Digital and IT occupations:

  • All IT business analysts, architects and systems designer roles SOC code 2135
  • All Programme and software development roles SOC code 2136
  • All web design and development professional roles SOC code 2137
  • All Information technology and communications professionals not elsewhere classified SOC code 2139

Education occupations:

  • Teachers in the subjects of maths, physics, science (where an element of physics will be taught), computer science and Mandarin (secondary education teaching professionals) within SOC code 2314

Business, finance and legal occupations:

  • Bio-informaticians and informaticians within actuaries, economists and statisticians SOC code 2425

Artistic and creative occupations:

  • All artists roles SOC code 3411
  • Dancers and choreographers – only skilled classical ballet dancers who meet the standard required by internationally recognised United Kingdom ballet companies and skilled contemporary dancers who meet the standard required by internationally recognised United Kingdom contemporary dance companies SOC code 3414
  • Musicians – only skilled orchestral musicians who are leaders, principals, subprincipals or numbered string positions, and who meet the standard required by internationally recognised UK orchestras SOC code 3415
  • All arts officer, producer and director roles SOC code 3416
  • All graphic designer roles SOC code 3421

Other occupations:

  • All architect roles SOC code 2431
  • All quantity surveyor roles code 2433
  • Skilled chefs – only executive chefs, head chefs, sous chefs and specialist chefs with further restrictions within SOC code 5434


Removals from the list

A number of roles have been removed from the SOL including:

  • Pharmacists, pharmacologists and dental practitioners
  • Management consultants, actuaries, economists and statisticians working in the life assurance, general insurance or health and care sectors.
  • Managers and directors in mining and energy


Future changes to the immigration system

The report also explores the potential role of the SOL in the future immigration system, which would likely see the range of eligible jobs expanded and potentially replacing the SOL with a new approach to identifying and implementing skills-based criteria.

As the new system is proposed to centre on skills over nationality, the review also touches on what could fall under ‘medium-skilled’ jobs where the MAC believes shortages may be emerging such as science and technology technicians, construction workers and social care professionals. Specific recommendations are expected to be provided ahead of the new system implementation.

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, assigning SOC codes or any issue relating to hiring points-based visa workers, contact us.

The current shortage occupation list can be viewed here. 

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