Government pauses on making changes to Shortage Occupation List

The government has announced that it will not be immediately accepting any of the recommendations contained in the Migration Advisory Committee's Shortage Occupaton List (SOL) report.

As well as making recommendations for which roles should be added to the SOL, the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) report recommended that vent chick sexers be reclassified as skilled enough for the new points-based immigration system. However, this latest announcement means that none of the recommendations will be in place from 1 January 2021.

In her response to the MAC review, Home Secretary Priti Patel said: "Before making any changes to the SOLs, we believe it is right to pause and assess how the UK labour market develops and how quickly recovery is evidenced post-Covid 19 and in response to the introduction of the new Points-Based Immigration System.

"We are absolutely not rejecting the advice of the MAC. At this stage, we intend to continue scrutinising the recommendations to ensure our approach to applying them aligns with the UK labour market, and will consider whether to implement some or all of them in a forthcoming set of changes to the Immigration Rules in 2021."

More information on the MAC's recommendations

In September, the MAC published its review into the SOL, which outlined which occupations, among those eligible for the government's skilled worker immigration route, are in shortage.

While the report outlined that some food supply chain roles need adding to the list, such as butchers, vets, agricultural mechanics and meat hygiene inspectors, no agricultural roles at production level had been added.

However, it did recommend that vent sexing be reclassified as meeting the skills threshold for the points-based immigration system that will be introduced from 1 January 2021.

NFU Vice President Tom Bradshaw responded to the MAC's recommendations. He said:

“The past six months have demonstrated just how important food and farming is in Britain, and farmers need access to the right workforce with the right skills.

“As it stands, the points-based system is unlikely to provide farm businesses with the workforce they need when the transition period comes to an end, which is seriously concerning for many.

“While it is great to see roles like vets, butchers and agricultural mechanics included on the Shortage Occupation List, the majority of production level agricultural roles have been overlooked. These include dairy herdspeople, of which 88% of dairy members responding to an NFU survey cited as in shortage, horticulture and potato operatives, which 86% of growers identified as in shortage, and bird handlers, which 94% of poultry members said was in shortage. As these jobs are overlooked, so is the vital role they play in supporting an industry that delivers quality, nutritious, affordable food for our plates.”

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