Today the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) has published its review of the shortage occupation list (SOL). Alongside some occupations which have been added to the list – veterinarians, web designers and architects – many have been expanded to include all roles within that occupation.

This means the SOL will cover around 9% of jobs in the labour market, compared to one per cent under the previous list.

The committee has recommended broadening the SOL to include all roles in occupations such as medical practitioners, nurses, programmers and software development professionals. This recognises the increasing difficulty in filling such roles.

The MAC was asked to consider the addition of Northern Irish and Welsh SOLs to the existing UK list and Scotland-only SOL. In principle, the MAC agrees that devolved SOLs should be created.

The MAC also recommends a review of what role the SOL would play in a future immigration system.

MAC Chair Professor Alan Manning said:

Today’s labour market is very different to the one we reviewed when the last SOL was published in 2013. Unemployment is lower and employers in various industries are facing difficulties in finding skilled people to fill their vacancies.

That is why we have recommended expanding the SOL to cover a range of occupations in health, information and engineering fields.

However, our recommendations are clearly only applicable under the current immigration system, while EU free movement remains. We are recommending a full review of the SOL once there is a clearer picture of what the future immigration system will look like.

The review’s other recommendations include:
  • a consideration of medium-skilled occupations which may become eligible for the SOL in the future system
  • the inclusion of Gaelic teachers in the Scotland-only SOL
  • pilots to expand the evidence-base on what might work in migration policy for remote communities
  • removing the restriction on chef visas, which currently excludes those offering a takeaway service. This is in recognition of the changing nature of the hospitality sector and with the aim of future-proofing the list