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UK Shortage Occupation List

The UK’s Shortage Occupation List can be the source of much confusion for employers, particularly when hiring under a sponsorship licence for the first time or recruiting for a different type of role. It’s important however for employers, HR professionals and anyone involved in your recruitment to understand the rules and application of the Shortage Occupation List. Issues or errors when hiring Tier 2 workers can result in Home Office enforcement, including licence suspensions and curtailed employee visas.

How does the Shortage Occupation List work? 

The list comprises those roles deemed by 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 (PBS) and PBS visa applications.

As such, in order for employers to fill these roles by hiring internationally under the Tier 2 (General) route, roles on the SOL enjoy relaxed immigration criteria, namely:

  1. No Resident Labour Market Test If a role is included on the SOL, it means there are not enough resident workers to fill the available jobs and the employer is not required to evidence that they have tested the market in order to give priority to UK settled workers before they can issue a Tier 2 Certificate of Sponsorship.
  2. Priority in the event of full allocation Where applications for Certificates of Sponsorship exceed those available, roles on the SOL will be given preference.

Key pointers for Tier 2 employers

The Shortage Occupation List is subject to change.

The Government can make changes to the list on the recommendation of the MAC. Changes can include adding, removing or amending roles. So if you are planning to hire a non-EEA national under the Tier 2 (General) visa route, you should check you are working to the most up too date version. The list was most recently updated on 6th October 2019.

Remaining Tier 2 eligibility criteria must be met

Beyond the RLMT and priory allocation, all other requirements for the Tier 2 visa are the same as for non-SOL roles, for example the minimum salary, experience or qualification requirements.

UK Shortage Occupation List 

For Certificates of Sponsorship assigned after 6 October 2019:

Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) code and descriptionJob titles included on the United Kingdom Shortage Occupation List and further criteria
2112 Biological scientists and biochemistsAll jobs in this occupation code
2113 Physical ScientistsOnly 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

2121 Civil engineersAll jobs in this occupation code
2122 Mechanical engineersAll jobs in this occupation code
2123 Electrical engineersAll jobs in this occupation code
2124 Electronics EngineersAll jobs in this occupation code
2126 Design and development engineersAll jobs in this occupation code
2127 Production and process engineersAll jobs in this occupation code
2129 Engineering professionals not elsewhere classifiedAll jobs in this occupation code
2135 IT business analysts, architects and systems designersAll jobs in this occupation code
2136 Programmers and software development professionalsAll jobs in this occupation code
2137 Web design and development professionalsAll jobs in this occupation code
2139 Information technology and communications professionals not elsewhere classifiedOnly the following job in this occupation code:

• Cyber security specialist .

2211 Medical practitionersAll jobs in this occupation code
2212 PsychologistsAll jobs in this occupation code
2216 VeterinariansAll jobs in this occupation code
2217 Medical RadiographersAll jobs in this occupation code
2222 Occupational therapistsAll jobs in this occupation code
2223 Speech and language therapistsAll jobs in this occupation code
2231 NursesAll jobs in this occupation code
2314 Secondary education teaching professionalsOnly 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 statisticiansOnly the following jobs in this occupation code:

• bio-informatician
• informatician

2431 ArchitectsAll jobs in this occupation code
2433 Quantity surveyorsAll jobs in this occupation code
2442 Social workersAll jobs in this occupation code
2461 Quality control and planning engineersAll jobs in this occupation code
3213 ParamedicsAll jobs in this occupation code
3411 ArtistAll jobs in this occupation code
3414 Dancers and choreographersOnly 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 MusiciansOnly 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 directorsAll jobs in this occupation code
3421 Graphic designersAll jobs in this occupation code
5215 Welding tradesOnly 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 ChefsOnly 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

Roles which are no longer on the SOL

The following roles have been removed from the latest SOL, but this information will be important for ILR applicants:

Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) code and descriptionJob titles previously included on the United Kingdom Shortage Occupation List and further criteriaDate on which job titles were removed from the United Kingdom Shortage Occupation ListDate of application for indefinite leave to remain where job titles cease to provide exemption from the salary requirement in paragraph 245HF(d)(vi)
1123 Production managers and directors in mining and energyOnly the following jobs in this occupation code:

The following jobs in the decommissioning and waste management areas of the nuclear industry:

• managing director
• programme director
• site director

The following jobs in the electricity transmission and distribution industry:

• project manager
• site manager

1 October 20191 October 2025
2133 IT specialist managersOnly the following job in this occupation code:

IT product manager employed by a qualifying company, where the job requires a person with a minimum of five years’ relevant experience and demonstrable experience of having led a team.

1 October 20191 October 2025
2142 Environmental ProfessionalsOnly the following jobs in this occupation code:
the following jobs in the construction-related ground engineering industry:• contaminated land specialist
• geoenvironmental specialist
• landfill engineer
1 October 20191 October 2025
2219 Health professionals not elsewhere classifiedOnly the following jobs in this occupation code:

• neurophysiology healthcare scientist
• neurophysiology practitioner
• nuclear medicine scientist
• orthotist
• prosthetist

1 October 20191 October 2025
2314 Secondary education teaching professionals• secondary education teacher in the subject of chemistry6 April 20176 April 2023
3113 Engineering techniciansOnly the following jobs in this occupation code:

The following jobs in the electricity transmission and distribution industry:

• commissioning engineer
• substation electrical engineer

1 October 20191 October 2025
3541 Buyers and purchasing officersOnly the following job in this occupation code;

• manufacturing engineer (purchasing) in the aerospace industry

1 October 20191 October 2025
5235 Aircraft maintenance and related tradesOnly the following jobs in this occupation code:

• licensed and military certifying engineer/inspector technician

1 October 20191 October 2025
5249 Line repairers and cable jointersOnly the following job in this occupation code:

• overhead lines worker at Linesman Erector 2 (LE2) level and above, where the pay is at least £32,000 per year

1 October 20191 October 2025
5249 Line repairers and cable jointersOnly the following job in this occupation code:

• overhead lines worker, working on high voltage lines that carry at least 275,000 volts (except at Lines worker Erector 2 (LE2) level and above and where the pay is at least £32,000 per year – This job remained on the Shortage Occupation List until 1 October 2019

6 April 20156 A

Question about the Shortage Occupation List – DavidsonMorris can help!

If you have a question about the Tier 2 visa and hiring under a UK sponsorship licence, speak to our experts today. We have extensive experience of helping employers with all aspects of UK business immigration including handling the intricacies of the Shortage Occupation List and wider pitfalls of employing Tier 2 workers, matching SOC codes and issuing Certificates of Sponsorship.

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