Changes to the UK’s Shortage Occupation List take effect following recommendations by government advisers, the Migration Advisory Committee. 

The UK’s Shortage Occupation List (SOL) has been amended to incorporate new roles and remove others. Headline recommendations include the addition of occupations in health, information technology and other STEM fields.

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

Which roles have been added to the Shortage Occupation List

The following roles now feature on the SOL as of 9 September 2019:

  • Health occupations:
    • Medical practitioners SOC code 2211
    • Psychologists SOC code 2212
    • Veterinarians SOC code 2212
    • Medical radiographers SOC code 2217
    • Occupational therapists SOC code 2222
    • Speech and language therapists SOC code 2223
    • Nurses SOC code 2231
    • Social workers SOC code 2442
    • Paramedics SOC code 3213
  • Engineering occupations:
    • Civil engineers SOC code 2121
    • Mechanical engineers SOC code 2122
    • Electrical engineers SOC code 2123
    • Electronics engineers SOC code 2124
    • Design and development engineers SOC code 2126
    • Production and process engineers SOC code 2127
    • Engineering professionals n.e.c SOC code 2129
    • Quality control and planning engineers SOC code 2461
    • Welding trades, High integrity pipe welders within SOC code 5215
  • Science professionals:
    • Biological scientists and biochemists SOC code 2112
    • Physical scientists SOC code 2113
    • Social and humanities scientists including archaeologists SOC code 2114
  • Digital and IT occupations
    • IT business analysts, architects and systems SOC code 2135
    • Programme and software development professionals SOC code 2136
    • Web design and development professionals SOC code 2137
    • Cyber security specialist (someone who applies security measures to ensure the confidentiality, integrity and availability of data: this encompasses other roles such as security architect, information assurance consultant, security operational analyst and cyber security consultant) and information technology and telecommunications professionals n.e.c within 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
    • Scottish Gaelic language teachers to the Scottish SOL
    • Scottish Gaelic-medium primary and nursery teachers to the Scotland SOL
  • Business, finance and legal occupations:
    • Bio-informaticians and informaticians within actuaries, economists and statisticians SOC code 2425
  • Artistic and creative occupations:
    • Artists SOC code 3411
    • Dancers and choreographers SOC code 3414
    • Musicians SOC code 3415
    • Arts officer, producers and directors SOC code 3416
    • Graphic designers SOC code 3421
  • Other occupations:
    • Architects SOC code 2431
    • Skilled chefs within SOC code 5434

Future changes to the immigration system

The MAC’s report also explored 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? 

With the end of EU free movement expected to restrict the supply of EU workers, shortages in the domestic labour market across sectors and overall uncertainty surrounding Brexit and the future immigration system, more UK companies are having to recruit internationally under the points based visa system.

DavidsonMorris specialise 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, hiring Tier 2 workers, assigning SOC codes or any issue relating to hiring points-based visa workers, contact us.

The current shortage occupation list can be viewed here.