The Migrant Advisory Committee (MAC) has recently unveiled its latest report, focusing on the Shortage Occupation List (SOL). The MAC, composed of academics and a Home Office deputy director, plays a pivotal role in advising the UK government on immigration policies.
In its most recent report, the committee offers recommendations regarding the inclusion and exclusion of certain job roles within the SOL, along with other noteworthy proposals.
The Purpose of the MAC Report
The MAC report was commissioned to review the Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) codes(job codes) listed on SOL.
It was granted the freedom to scrutinise roles that fell below the current skill level of RQF (Regulated Qualifications Framework) level 3, a move that could potentially open the doors for businesses to hire semi-skilled professionals such as retail assistants, bar staff, and waiters/waitresses.
However, the committee’s conclusion is clear: no additional roles below RQF level 3 should be added to the SOL.
Key Recommendations of the MAC Report
The MAC report made the following recommendations:
1. Continued Inclusion of Care Workers: The report recommends that both senior care workers and junior care workers should continue to be listed on the SOL, recognising the ongoing gaps in the care sector.
2. Laboratory Technicians and Construction Workers: Laboratory technicians, along with recent additions from the construction sector such as bricklayers and roofers, are advised to remain on the SOL.
3. Pharmaceutical Technicians and Animal Care Services: Pharmaceutical Technicians and Animal care services occupations where the individual falls under a particular job titles (i.e. those working with horses) should be added to the SOL.
4. Realignment for SOC Code 5319: Under the SOL, all individuals sponsored under SOC code 5319 are considered to be in a shortage. MAC has advised that only those with job title “retrofitters” should be listed on the SOL and all other individuals should be considered none shortage occupation roles.
5. Geographic Differentiation: Fishing boat masters and professionals involved in shipbuilding and repair are recommended to fall under the SOL but only when their roles are based in Scotland, recognising variations in labour demand.
6. Lower Salary Threshold Removal: The report proposes the removal of the lower salary threshold for individuals on SOC codes on the SOL, which would mean that migrants in these roles would need to be paid the standard “going rate”, meaning they may need to be paid a higher salary.
7. Reclassification of Sommeliers: MAC also calls for the reclassification of sommeliers. While their current skill level is listed below RQF level 3, the committee believes their expertise should be recognised as being at RQF level 3, allowing businesses to hire sommeliers under a Skilled Worker visa.
Implementation and Future Review
It’s important to note that the MAC’s recommendations are not binding on the government. The Home Secretary will carefully consider the report before any decisions are made. Another review is scheduled to commence in the spring of 2024.
The MAC has requested that the Home Office reaches a decision no later than the end of January 2024. If all the recommendations are implemented, it could signal a substantial shift in the rules regarding salary requirements for migrants.
Ultimately, the decisions made in response to this report will have far-reaching consequences for both migrants seeking employment in the UK and businesses looking to fill critical positions.