On 13 November 2018 the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) launched a request for information ("call for evidence") to stakeholders for its review of the shortage occupation list here.
Jobs on the current list are exempt from the Resident Labour Market Test (RLMT) requirement to advertise roles for 28 days to local workers before sponsoring a Tier 2 migrant and they are exempt from the current five year salary threshold of £35,500 for the person to be eligible for settlement (permanent residence).
The list currently comprises a limited range of sectors such as specialist engineers in the oil and gas industry; senior software developers and medical professionals, most notably nurses and paramedics, alongside other niche sectors. The full list is here.
The review has particular significance in view of the MAC's recommendation to the Government in September 2018 that no preferential access should be given to EEA migrants after the end of any implementation period.
The MAC recommendations for the future immigration system include:
- Abolish the RLMT or keep it only for those earning less than £50,000 per year
- Maintain the minimum salary at £30,000 per year
- Expand the Tier 2 route to jobs at a lower skill level;
- Retain the Immigration Skills Charge of £1,000 per migrant worker for medium and large size businesses and £364 for small or charitable businesses.
The MAC is seeking responses on shortages in all job titles, regardless of skill level.
Whilst employers currently have access to EEA national workers, they should bear in mind when responding that after the implementation period in December 2020, or potentially earlier in the event of a 'no deal' Brexit, EEA nationals moving to the UK from then onwards are likely to have to meet the same visa requirements as non-EEA nationals. In view of the high costs associated with sponsorship and the high minimum salary threshold, this is likely to disproportionately impact smaller businesses and those in lower skilled roles.
Many employers are concerned about labour shortages amid an indication of a lack of interest among EEA nationals in moving to work in the UK and with no sign of queues of non-EEA nationals interested in replacing them this could signal a rough transition for some sectors.
Those responding to the call for evidence are required to complete an online form here to provide information regarding specific job titles which they consider to be in shortage, using data and/or examples to support their answers. Responses must be provided by 6 January 2019. The MAC will publish their recommendations in spring 2019.
We will be happy to discuss any questions you may have on the report or any issues arising. Please do get in touch with Gillian McKearney if you have any questions.