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Shortage Occupation List and migrant labour - we need your help!

12th Jun 2020 / By Ed Barker

A new weeks ago the Migratory Advisory Commission (MAC) announced that it would be holding a short review and consultation into the Shortage Occupation List (SOL).

pig workersThe SOL is a feature of the existing work migration route, and it lists occupations where employers face a shortage of suitable labour and where it is sensible to fill those shortages with migrant workers.

The occupations on the list are given some special dispensations within the immigration rules designed to make it easier for employers to access migrant labour to fill those vacancies. Ultimately it is for the Government to decide which occupations are selected, however the MAC will advise what goes on it.

As we know, the process of hiring staff from overseas will become more challenging, despite NPA and industry concerns over the availability of permanent staff in farms and in the processing sector.  

The Government has committed to end of free movement of people between the UK and EU member states on January 1, 2021. From this date onwards, the skilled worker route of the proposed points-based system will be the way in which employers will have to hire from overseas.

The Government’s has stated that an overseas job application will have to meet a total of 70 points to be eligible. A total of 20 points are allocated for a job being in a shortage occupation.

An occupation on the SOL lowers the salary threshold employers must meet by 20 per cent. For example, this would mean the proposed general salary threshold of £25,600 would be reduced to £20,480.

There is now an opportunity to try and influence what will appear on the SOL. A short consultation has been opened into the SOL, with evidence being asked as to what occupations should appear on the list.

In considering whether an occupation should be placed on the SOL, we as an industry have to be able to demonstrate that a job profile:

  • meets a minimum skill requirement
  • is in genuine shortage and
  • should be filled by migrant workers.

What this means is that for a job role to be added on the SOL, it ideally needs to be on the ‘RQF3 or above skills threshold' list which can be found here.

Interestingly, this list includes farming professions, including ‘Pig breeders’. In addition, ‘butchers’ are also on the list. This means that there is scope for pig farm staff and workers in abattoirs to be added to the SOL, however we as an industry have to demonstrate this need.

We need your help

In order to respond to this, you can respond either as a representative organisation (like the NPA) or as an individual business. If you would like to respond as an individual business, the survey link and accompanying documents can be found here.

However if you are not able to fill out on behalf of your business, you can help inform our thinking. We have had great engagement from members in the past on this, and we will use this to inform our response. However, if you have new information we would like to hear from you. The questions that we need answers to are:

  • Are alternatives to employing immigrants in response to perceived staff shortages feasible?
  • What are the actual obstacles to employing UK based workers?
  • Are there enough UK resident workers in training/education to fill shortages?
  • How will the employment of immigrants affect investment, innovation and productivity growth?
  • What are the likely impacts of shortage in this occupation? 
  • Why should this occupation be deemed of high public value?

If you have any views on this, or wish to add anything else on migrant labour, please email Ed  by Monday June 22.

No matter how small, every contribution is important to inform our response.

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