Will the UK’s Shortage Occupation List be extended? - | Hudson McKenzie

Will the UK’s Shortage Occupation List be extended?

Ahead of the new points-based immigration system in January 2021, The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) has recently been appointed the task of reviewing the Shortage Occupation List (SOLs) for the UK including Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. The MAC is an independent advisory committee in charge of advising the UK government specifically on migration matters. They make numerous recommendations that are subject to the approval of UK, Visas, and Immigration (UKVI).

The SOL enlists all the occupations that have a shortage of labour within the UK. It is deemed necessary to rectify these labour shortages by recruiting migrant workers from overseas to fill these gaps. This will be via the skilled worker route in the new immigration system.

The MAC has now published a full report of recommendations for more medium-skill occupations to be added to the SOL. Upon review, there are nominal changes that UKVI must consider.


The changes recommended by the MAC are the following:

  • An extension to the number of occupations enlisted in the SOL, from 35 to 64 occupations
  • The addition of various occupations specifically associated to the SOLs of the devolved nations, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland
  • A minor review of all the SOLs to take place annually and a major review to take place every three years


The MAC have put forward key changes to the SOL in their published report. The stance taken by the MAC is that professions within the health and social care sector should be added to the list, such as Pharmacists, Senior Care Workers and Nurses. The reasons for this include the fact that this sector specifically will face far greater pressure when freedom of movement comes to an end next year and the substantial reliance on these professions because of the pandemic.

However, it has been warned that the salary thresholds in social care must be increased to attract UK workers to these occupations, rather than solely relying on the support from migrant workers. This warning has also been issued for reasons associated with COVID-19 and the ineligibility of many frontline workers for the skilled worker route because of low wages.

Other occupations that have been recommended include butchers and bricklayers which can be filled by foreign workforces. There is also a variation in the needs for different professions amongst the devolved nations. This comprises of fishmongers, horticultural workers and bakers for Northern Ireland, health professionals for Wales and nursery nurses for Scotland. Considering these differences, minor reviews on an annual basis have been advised to monitor these needs.

The downsides of this report are directed to occupations including chefs and quantity surveyors, which have been removed from the SOL. The upsides for the newly added professions, should UKVI approve and therefore implement the MAC’s recommendations, will benefit from being awarded 20 points towards the 70 points threshold to qualify for the skilled worker route into the UK.

Should you have any questions regarding the above information, the new points-based immigration system or require legal assistance with your immigration matters, please get in touch with a professional at Hudson McKenzie via email at londoninfo@hudsonmckenzie.com or by telephone +44(0)20 3318 5794.