Last reviewed 16 March 2021

The Shortage Occupation List (SOL) shows which occupations, among those eligible for the skilled worker route, are facing a shortage of suitable labour and where it is sensible to fill those shortages with migrant workers.

The Minister for Future Borders and Immigration, Kevin Foster, has recently written to Professor Brian Bell, chairman of the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC), with regard to changes to the list which his Committee oversees.

In the letter, which can be found at https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/967900/Letter_to_the_Migration_Advisory_Committee_on_changes_to_the_shortage_occupation_list.pdf, Mr Foster notes changes to the SOL which the Government has decided to make, following previous recommendations by the MAC.

He points out that the Home Secretary, Priti Patel, has decided that more time is needed to monitor the impact of the new Skilled Worker route, as well as to consider how the economy recovers post-Covid-19.

"The Government therefore still considers we should not make widescale changes to the SOL relating to medium-skilled occupations, which have only recently become eligible for Skilled Worker visas, at this time," the Minister notes.

However, the Government has taken account of the particular recruitment needs faced by the health and social care sector at this extremely challenging time and has accepted changes to the SOL with regard to health services and public health managers and directors, residential, day and domiciliary care managers and proprietors, and pharmacists.

Other roles mentioned in the letter include physiotherapists, laboratory technicians, nursing auxiliaries and assistants, and senior care workers.

Chefs are removed from the list.

These changes will take effect from 6 April and Mr Foster confirms that the minor review of the SOL planned for this year will not take place so that the major review in 2022 should see the next amendments to the list.

Comment by Paul Holcroft, Managing Director at Croner

This move indicates that, while the Government will be careful with adding roles to the Shortage Occupation List, it will take the current climate into consideration - which could prove positive for employers.

The impact of coronavirus may mean that further Government intervention will be necessary (and likely possible) if employers struggle to fill medium- to high-skilled roles in the next year.