12 November 2008

Job shortage list reduced by UK Home Office

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A reduction in the number of jobs available for foreign workers in the UK listed on the shortage occupation list is due to come into effect this month, the Government announced yesterday, 11 November 2008.

The shortage occupation list is devised by a panel of experts, and represents those jobs that cannot be filled by local British workers.  The list will form a crucial part of the Tier 2 work permit of the new UK immigration system that will go live on 27 November this year. 

The new Australian-style points-based system consists of five tiers or categories for immigration to the UK.  Tier 2 will allow skilled workers to migrate to the UK provided they work in jobs listed on the shortage occupation list.  Only those jobs that are in need of foreign workers will appear on the list, so that the Home Office can protect the job opportunities of local British residents from the effects of unnecessary migration.

As a result, the Government reduced the list from 1 million occupations to 800,000 occupations available to migrants.  If a company wishes to hire foreign workers in an occupation not on the list, they must pass the Resident Labour Market test by proving they cannot fill the job with local workers.  

Border and Immigration Minister Phil Woolas said the new Australian-style system allows the Government to remain reflexive to market conditions and consider population trends, so that immigration will not affect the prospects and livelihood of British residents.

"Had the points system been in place last year there would have been 12 per cent fewer people coming in to work through the equivalent work permit route.  On top of this, the strict new shortage list means 200,000 fewer jobs are available via the shortage occupation route," Mr Woolas said in a statement.

The Government amended the list after full recommendations from the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC), which also advised social workers remain on the list until further notice.  Other occupations include hospital consultants, vets, scientists, nurses, quantity surveyors, nurses, engineers, dancers and choreographers, ship and hovercraft officers, pipe fitters, line repairers, chefs and care assistants.  The MAC is still considering whether senior care workers, qualified town planners, skilled chefs and teachers in subjects other than maths and science should be included on the list.  According to the BBC, Scotland has its own separate list that includes manual filleters of frozen fish, senior nurses in care of the elderly units, and speech and language therapists. 

Further Education Minister Sion Simon said the Government is working hard to ensure UK residents are being trained to their full potential before foreign workers are called in.

"We have recently made a number of funding deals with employers, worth £630 million over three years, to give them greater access to flexible, bespoke training aimed at tackling skills shortages in their sectors," Mr Simon said.  "The deals cover sectors such as catering, hospitality and construction."

Part of the conditions of migration in Tier 2 require workers to have sufficient English language skills, prospective earnings of £24,000 or above or a sufficient level of qualifications, and enough funds to support themselves within the first month of their stay in the UK.

Employers are also required to have a licence to hire overseas workers from outside the EEA under the new system. 


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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