12 September 2008

NZ sheep shearers now have an easier path to working in UK

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It has long been a tradition for Australians and New Zealanders to move to the UK for work, but according to One News, before the recent immigration changes it was becoming increasingly difficult for overseas sheep shearers to work in Britain.

This week, the British Home Office released the proposed new Shortage Occupation List that details what kinds of overseas workers will now be allowed into the UK to find a job.  The list has been reduced by 30 per cent, from one million types of jobs to 700,000, and is designed to better match the skills of overseas workers to the skills needed in Britain, so that only those needed to work here will be approved UK visas.

"Our new Australian-style points system is flexible to meet the needs of British business while ensuring that only those we want and no more can come here to work. This tough new shortage occupation list supports that,” said Liam Byrne, Border and Immigration Minister.

"This strict list means 30 per cent fewer jobs are available to migrants via the shortage occupation route,” he added.  "Those that do come will need to work hard, play by the rules and speak English."

The new list now makes it easier for Australian and New Zealand sheep shearers to work in Britain.  During the antipodeans’ winter, around 500 sheep shearers make their way around Europe, starting in France and Spain and making their way to the UK and Iceland, where summer arrives later.  According to the news provider, the shearers can earn around £260 per day (£0.65 per sheep), as - on average – they can shear around 400 sheep every day.  In comparison, UK sheep shearers are managing around 200 sheep per day and sheep farmers are struggling to find the sheep shearers they need.

"In order for the employer to hire somebody from outside Europe, they have got to meet three hurdles," Professor David Metcalf, the Migration Advisory Council Chairman told the BBC Radio 4 Today Programme.  "First of all, the job has got to be skilled, secondly it's got to be in shortage and third it's got to be sensible to bring the person in."


The UK Visa Bureau is an independent consulting company specialising in UK visa and immigration services.

Article by Jessica Bird, UK Visa Bureau.


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