Review of the UK Border Agency's Tier 2 Shortage Occupation List

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The Government has asked the Migration Advisory Committee to review the current shortage occupation list. How will this affect you?

Background

Employers who recruit non-European Economic Area (EEA) migrant workers to fill vacancies within their workforce will be familiar with Tier 2 of the UK Border Agency’s Points Based System and its strict qualifying criteria, in particular the resident labour market test (RLMT).

The Shortage Occupation List (SOL) is intended to include skilled occupations experiencing a labour shortage and which might therefore be sensibly filled using non-EEA workers. The current SOL includes a number of manufacturing roles.

To assist employers who experience skilled labour shortages, occupations included in the SOL are exempt from the RLMT which must normally be fulfilled before non-EEA staff can be sponsored and work in the UK. The RLMT requires employers to demonstrate that a post cannot be filled by a suitably qualified EEA resident worker through advertising in a prescribed format and medium for at least 4 weeks. In practice, the RLMT is a difficult test to satisfy as well being both time consuming and administratively onerous.

Review of the Shortage Occupation List

The Government has asked the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) to review the current SOL. In turn, the MAC has issued a call for evidence from all interested parties on a number of points including labour shortages so that these can be taken into consideration when compiling its recommendations for a new SOL. In particular, the MAC will be applying three tests when considering the occupations that should remain on the SOL:

  1. Is the occupation/job sufficiently skilled?
  2. Is there a shortage of labour for that occupation/job?
  3. If yes, is it sensible to fill this shortage with labour from outside the EEA?

The Government has already indicated that it wishes to remove from the SOL all occupations that have been on it for more than 2 years regardless of shortages affecting the sectors concerned. A possible outcome of this review process is therefore that a number of manufacturing occupations currently included on the SOL will be removed in the first quarter of 2013. This is highly likely to have a direct and adverse impact on EEF members who sponsor staff under Tier 2 as they would then be required to fulfil the RLMT for occupations not included on the SOL even if a clear shortage of suitable staff still exists.

Experiencing staff shortages? Have your say...

EEF is collating responses to the MAC's call for evidence so that we can positively influence the outcome of the review process. If your business is experiencing difficulty in recruiting staff with specialist skills, we would be keen to hear from you. We are particularly interested to receive comments on the issues set out in this short questionnaire.

For further information please contact Verity O'Keefe at VO'Keefe@eef.org.uk

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Media Team 020 7654 1576

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