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5 February 2021

Review of the Shortage Occupation List released

A review of the Shortage Occupation List (SOL) ahead of the introduction of a points-based immigration system on 1 January 2021 has been published, recommending the addition of several occupations to the list.
Estimated reading time: 2 minutes
Review of the Shortage Occupation List released

These include senior care workers and nursing assistants, as there is anticipated to be a shortage of workers when freedom of movement from the European Union ends on 31 December 2020.

Other occupations include all roles related to senior health and social care, butchers, bricklayers, electricians, welders and graphic designers. None of the occupations previously on the SOL were removed.

The Migration Advisory Committee was commissioned by the Home Secretary to review the occupations and job titles on the Shortage Occupation List on 17 March 2020, just six days before the United Kingdom entered lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The focus of the review is on occupations skilled at RQF3 and above (Level 3 of the Regulated Qualification Framework and the equivalent in the Devolved Nations). 

Criteria for inclusion

The MAC SOL methodology uses three criteria to decide which occupations should go onto the SOL. It asks whether:

  • the occupation is skilled at the required level set by the Government.
  • the occupation is in shortage.
  • it is sensible to fill this shortage with migrant workers.

MAC Chair, Professor Brian Bell said: “The number of migrants coming to work in the UK has already decreased and we are likely to see an increase in unemployment over the next year as the economic impact of the pandemic continues, so this has been a very challenging time to look at the Shortage Occupation Lists.

“It has made us more willing to recommend some roles for inclusion simply because it is the sensible thing to do, but we have been clear that migration is not always the solution.

“We remain particularly concerned about the social care sector, which is so central to the frontline response to this health pandemic, as it will struggle to recruit the necessary staff if wages do not increase as a matter of urgency.”


  • The MAC recommended that the government implement additional funding to deal with shortages of workers in healthcare sector.
  • SOL reviews should be regular and flexible so that they are responsive to the labour market and can capture changes to shortages as they occur through data and through employer viewpoints.
  • It is proposed that a minor review of all lists takes place annually, with a major review taking place every three years.
  • The MAC also recommended creating separate additional shortage lists for Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales. This includes fishmongers, bakers and horticultural workers for Northern Ireland, childminders and nursery nurses for Scotland and health professionals for Wales.

Though the UK government is not required to adopt recommendations from the MAC, they are likely to do so as part of the implementation of the Skilled Worker route starting  on 1 January 2021. 

The full review and list of occupations can be viewed here.

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