With job vacancies in the UK at record levels, Tony Danker, Director General of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) called for more fixed term visas for overseas workers during his speech at CBI’s conference in Birmingham on 21st November. He used his speech, in which he stated that “we don’t have the people we need, nor do we have the productivity“, to urge the UK government and politicians to be ‘practical’ about immigration. Rishi Sunak, speaking to the conference said “to make this country a true island of innovation, we also need to attract the best and brightest from around the world. So, we will unapologetically create one of the world’s most attractive visa regimes for entrepreneurs and highly skilled people.”
The Skilled Worker visa allows approved employers holding a sponsorship license, to recruit non-UK resident workers for certain skilled roles. To secure a skilled worker visa, candidates need to score 70 points or more. This points-based system measures eligibility by taking into consideration various factors. If the candidate has an approved offer for a skilled job and can speak fluent English, they will be awarded 50 points. One of the ways in which the candidate can attain the remaining 20 points is by taking a job on the shortage occupation list.
The shortage occupation list details those occupations recognised by the UK immigration authority as having staff shortages within the UK resident labour market. International applicants for those jobs have reduced requirements when applying for a skilled worker visa. The list comprises a huge number of occupations across a variety of sectors including electrical engineering, archaeology, heath services, care workers, software developers, architects and scientists. Many of the jobs on the list have specific details (such as Chemical scientists – only jobs in the nuclear industry) and the list is updated periodically, so potential employers recruiting against this list should check regularly.
The list is comprehensive and even includes artists, choreographers and dancers (although “only skilled classical ballet dancers or skilled contemporary dancers who meet the standard required by internationally recognised UK ballet or contemporary dance companies”). Arts officers, producers, directors and musicians – (skilled orchestral musicians who are leaders, principals, sub-principals or numbered string positions) also appear.
In his keynote speech at the conference, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer called to businesses to focus on “investing more in training up workers who are already here”, but recognising the current labour shortages said Labour would improve on the existing points-based immigration system and added “we’re not going to hold businesses back if there’s innovation, technologies, where we do need talent from abroad”.