In 2024, the UK’s Shortage Occupation List (SOL) remains a critical tool for employers and visa applicants alike. This list, integral to the UK’s immigration system, outlines specific jobs where the demand for skilled workers exceeds the local supply. Recent updates and the impending changes planned for the SOL make it a subject of keen interest and importance. In this article, we’ll explore the SOL’s significance, its recent evolution, and what future plans mean for employers and visa applicants navigating the UK’s immigration landscape.
What is the UK’s Shortage Occupation List?
The Shortage Occupation List (SOL) is a vital component of the UK Immigration Rules, specified in Appendix Skilled Occupations. Its primary purpose is to identify roles in short supply within the UK’s resident labor market. These occupations, deemed essential yet undersupplied, are crucial for the nation’s economic and social well-being.
For employers looking to sponsor skilled non-UK resident workers, the SOL provides a streamlined path. It’s part of the Skilled Worker visa, which demands applicants attain 70 points covering skills, language, and salary requirements. The SOL eases some of these demands, making it simpler for employers to fill critical roles.
The list is split into two tables, each detailing the Standard Occupational Classification Code (SOC) for each role. This division helps to categorise occupations more precisely, aiding employers and applicants in understanding the specific requirements and benefits associated with each listed occupation.
Advantages of Roles on the Shortage Occupation List
The inclusion of a role on the Shortage Occupation List (SOL) brings with it several significant advantages, both for employers and visa applicants. These benefits are designed to make it more attractive to fill these high-demand roles with skilled non-UK workers. Key advantages include:
- Lower Visa Application Fees: Roles listed on the SOL are subject to reduced visa application fees, easing the financial burden on both employers and applicants.
- Permission for Secondary Employment: For certain roles on the SOL, visa holders are granted permission to take up a second job, offering greater flexibility and opportunities for skilled workers.
- Salary Threshold Relaxation: One of the most notable benefits is the salary “discount.” When applying for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR), workers in SOL roles can qualify at a lower salary threshold compared to non-SOL occupations. This makes it more feasible for them to settle in the UK.
Examples from Table 1 of the SOL illustrate these advantages, showcasing roles across various sectors like healthcare, engineering, IT, and the arts. Each role is allowed a 20% discount to the threshold, offering substantial financial benefits and incentives to employers and workers.
Current Shortage Occupations (Table 1)
Table 1 of the UK’s Shortage Occupation List (SOL) for 2024 is a comprehensive guide to occupations where the demand significantly outstrips supply. It serves as a critical reference for employers and visa applicants, detailing roles across various sectors that are eligible for the benefits associated with being on the SOL. Key highlights from Table 1 include:
Diverse Sector Coverage: The table encompasses a wide range of sectors, from healthcare and engineering to IT and the arts, reflecting the varied needs of the UK labour market.
Going Rate Discount:* A unique feature of Table 1 is the “going rate” discount. Occupations listed here may be paid 80% of the standard going rate, making it financially advantageous for employers to fill these roles with qualified non-UK workers.
Healthcare Nurses, General Practitioners, and other medical professionals Engineering Civil Engineers, Mechanical Engineers, etc. Information Technology Data Scientists, Cybersecurity Specialists, etc. Arts Graphic Designers, Musicians, etc.
This table is a crucial tool for understanding the current labour market needs and for planning recruitment strategies that align with these in-demand roles.
Shortage Occupations in Specific Fields (Table 2)
Table 2 of the Shortage Occupation List (SOL) zeroes in on specific fields, particularly those with nationally set pay scales, such as healthcare and education. This table is instrumental for employers in these sectors, outlining key professions where there is a pronounced shortage and thus a high demand for skilled workers. Notable aspects of Table 2 include:
- Healthcare Focus: Many roles in the healthcare sector, like Medical Practitioners, Nurses, and Radiographers, are featured, reflecting the ongoing demand for healthcare professionals in the UK.
- Education Sector Occupations: It includes specific teaching roles, especially in subjects like Mathematics, Physics, Computer Science, and languages, indicating a critical need for educators in these areas.
- National Pay Scale Alignment: The occupations listed in Table 2 are aligned with national pay scales, providing clarity and consistency in terms of salary expectations and requirements.
Healthcare Specialist nurses, psychiatrists, radiographers, etc. Education Secondary school teachers in mathematics, science, languages, etc.
This part of the SOL is especially crucial for addressing the shortages in essential public services and guiding employers in these sectors to effectively meet their staffing needs.
Recent Changes and Future Plans
The Shortage Occupation List (SOL) is subject to regular updates to reflect the evolving needs of the UK job market. Recent changes in 2023 and upcoming plans for 2024 are pivotal in shaping the landscape of immigration and employment in the UK. Key developments include:
- 2023 Updates: In August 2023, the latest version of the SOL was published, incorporating recommendations from the independent Migration Advisory Committee (MAC). These recommendations are aimed at aligning the SOL with the selective nature of the UK Points Based System and sponsored visa applications.
- Future Replacement of the SOL: A significant plan for Spring 2024 is the replacement of the SOL with the ‘Immigration Salary List’. This new list will maintain the general threshold discount but will not include the 20% going rate salary discount for shortage occupations.
- Reduction in Shortage Occupations: Following the government’s 5-point immigration plan and the increase in the skilled worker salary threshold, there’s an ongoing review to potentially reduce the number of shortage occupations included in the new Immigration Salary List.
These changes reflect a dynamic approach to immigration and employment, ensuring that the UK continues to attract the skilled workers it needs while adapting to the changing economic landscape.
Shortage Occupation List FAQs
What is the Shortage Occupation List?
A: The shortage occupation list is a part of the UK Immigration Rules, identifying roles in short supply within the UK labour market. It eases the process for employers to sponsor skilled non-UK workers under the Skilled Worker visa.
How is the Shortage Occupation List Beneficial for Employers?
A: Employers can sponsor overseas workers for roles on the SOL under more favourable conditions, such as lower visa fees and relaxed salary thresholds, making it easier to fill essential positions.
What Changes are Expected in the SOL for 2024?
A: The shortage occupation list is set to be replaced by the ‘Immigration Salary List’ in Spring 2024, which will retain a general salary threshold discount but eliminate the 20% going rate discount for shortage occupations.
Can the Shortage Occupation List Impact Visa Applications?
A: Yes, for roles listed on the SOL, visa applicants may enjoy lower application fees and a reduced salary requirement for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) applications.
Where can I find the most up-to-date shortage occupation list?
A: The latest version of the SOL can be found in Appendix Skilled Occupations of the UK Immigration Rules, available on the UK government’s official website.