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Migration Advisory Committee publishes shortage occupation lists for the UK and Scotland

Migration Advisory Committee publishes shortage occupation lists for the UK and Scotland

HOME OFFICE News Release (156/2008) issued by COI News Distribution Service. 9 September 2008

New recommended lists of occupations for which there is a shortage of skilled workers in the UK and Scotland were published today by the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC), as part of the Committee's first major report.

Shortage occupation lists will be used in Tier 2 of the new Points Based System which relates to immigration of skilled workers from outside the European Economic Area (EEA). Under Tier 2, as well having as a certificate of sponsorship from a sponsored employer and satisfying English language and maintenance requirements, migrants have to satisfy points criteria based on their expected contribution to the UK economy. Under the shortage occupation route, employers who are licensed sponsors can bring in migrant workers from outside the EEA to fill vacancies in those occupations.

The report is a detailed and comprehensive response by the Committee to the Government's request to provide evidence-based advice on which shortages of skilled labour can sensibly be filled through immigration. It contains two recommended shortage occupation lists, one for the UK and one just for Scotland. These consist of skilled occupations and job titles that the Committee has assessed as being both skilled and in shortage and where it has concluded that it is sensible to fill these shortages, at least in the short term, through immigration.

The Committee's lists are recommendations to Government. It will be up to Government whether or not to accept them.

The full recommended UK list includes:

* consultants and senior nurses in particular healthcare specialisms;

* some engineering occupations, including civil and chemical engineers;

* quantity surveyors and project managers for property development and construction;

* secondary school teachers in the subjects of maths and science;

* skilled chefs;

* skilled senior care workers;

* ship and hovercraft officers; and

* some animal care occupations, including veterinary surgeons.

The recommended Scotland list includes all of the occupations on the UK list, as well as manual filleters of frozen fish, senior nurses in care of the elderly units, and speech and language therapists.

MAC Chair Professor David Metcalf said:

"This report is a landmark in the provision of evidence-based advice to Government. It breaks new ground in combining detailed data analysis with evidence from employers within a consistent and robust economic framework. This is the most comprehensive such analysis ever undertaken anywhere in the world.

"We have considered a huge amount of data and evidence, performed extensive analysis, visited employers in every country and region of the UK and written at length on our findings. We have done this within the demanding timescale prescribed by the Government. We commend to the Government our recommended shortage lists."

MAC member Dr Diane Coyle said:

"There is a straightforward message in our report, even though the analysis is complex and detailed: only those job titles which are skilled, in shortage and for which is it sensible to use immigrant workers to fill the shortages make it onto our list.

"We believe that our recommendations achieve the right balance between the needs of individual employers and those of the UK labour market and economy in the long term."

Some occupations were put forward for inclusion on the list, but after careful consideration the Committee has decided against including them, for example occupations in the construction and the hospitality industries. For certain occupations, such as chefs and care workers, only the most skilled workers are included on the recommended list.

The number of job titles and occupations on the UK list is larger than the last (July 2008) shortage occupation list produced by the UK Border Agency (UKBA). This is because the Committee has developed a different approach to UKBA. It has examined the whole of the UK labour market, and produced the list based on a combination of analysis and evidence from employers and others. Nonetheless, the occupations on the recommended list account for only approximately 700,000 employees, well below the over one million employees covered by the previous UKBA list.

Note to editors

1. The MAC was set up to provide independent and evidence-based advice to Government on specific sectors and occupations in the labour market where shortages exist which can sensibly be filled by migration. The Government may, from time to time, ask the Committee to advise on other matters relating to migration.

2. The Committee is comprised of five leading economists plus an ex-officio member from the UK Commission for Employment and Skills and an official from the UK Border Agency.

3. The MAC analysed data from 353 occupations and many among the 26,000 job titles via a mixture of top down statistical analysis and bottom-up case studies.

4. Five indicators of skill were considered:

* Pay;

* Qualifications;

* Office of National Statistics classification;

* Innate ability; and

* Training and experience.

5. Approximately half the occupations considered were scored as skilled (at NQF level 3+, roughly two A levels or above).

6. Once an occupation was defined as skilled the MAC determined whether there was a labour shortage. Twelve indicators were used including:

* change in pay;

* returns to qualifications;

* vacancy rates; and

* employers' perceptions of skill shortage vacancies.

7. If an occupation or job title passed the first two hurdles the final question was: is it sensible to fill the shortage via immigration from outside the EEA? The key consideration here is the tension between the short run fix using migrants and the long term aim of upskilling the British workforce.

8. The full recommended UK and Scotland lists, the report summary and the full report are available from the MAC and can be downloaded from its website at: http://www.bia.homeoffice.gov.uk/mac

9. The Migration Advisory Committee can be contacted at:
Migration Advisory Committee secretariat
6th Floor, Advance House,
15 Wellesley Road,
Croydon CR0 2AG
Tel: 020 8604 6027
Fax: 020 8604 6613
Email: mac@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk