Shortage Occupation List – Call for Evidence 2023

The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) has been asked to review the current Shortage Occupation List (SOL) and consider the following:

  1. Whether the salary requirement for shortage occupations should in the future, be whichever is higher of the going rate (rather than 20% less than the ging rate) or £20,480 (the threshold);*
  2. Which occupations on the current SOL should continue to be included and which should be removed;
  3. Which occuptions, if any, based on the evidence provided by stakeholders, should be added to the SOL, at:
    • RQF6 or above
    • RQF3-5
    • RQF1-2 in exceptional circumstances, where evidence suggests that:
      • an occupation requires substantial training/qualifications and prior experience and that the job should be recategorized to RQF3 to be made eligible for sponsorship
      • the occupation is facing severe and unexpected shortage and despite the efforts of employers/sectors it is proving impossible to recruit resident workers. 
  4. Given the government’s continued failure to respond to the previous report with regards to the recommendation of care workers and senior care workers to be added to the SOL the MAC will not be asking the social care sector to resubmit evidence to this review for their continued inclusion on the SOL, but will continue to recommend their inclusion.

What is the SOL?

The Shortage Occupation List (SOL) assesses occupations where employers are having difficulties to hire adequate numbers of workers with the required skills to fill their vacancies. In these instances, the Home Office considers that migration is a sensible response to the shortages. These occupations are then subject to more favourable migration arrangements allowing employers to assess a wider pool of suitable candidates, more quickly. An occupation’s skill level is based on the length of time it would take to train a new entrant to become fully competent in the performance of the tasks associated with a job.

Current benefits of being on the SOL:

  • Main benefit: a lower salary threshold (compared to the current Skilled Worker thershold of £25,600/year) of either £20,480 or 80% of the going rate for the occupation, whichever is higher.
*As part of the routine Spring package of immigration rule changes expected on 09 March 2023 the government is planning to increase the salary thresholds for the Skilled Worker route.
Subject to approval the new thresholds will be £26,200 and the lower SOL salary threshold being £20,960.

The MAC will recommend the SOL salary threshold discount for occupations subject to a binding going rate to be abolished.

This means occupations on national pay scales and occuaptions where the going rate is above the Skilled Worker general threshold are excluded.

As a consequence the only occupations that will benefit from being on the SOL that will be considered for inclusion are those for which the going rate falls between £20,480 and £25,600 (or £20,960 and £26,200 subject to Parliamentary approval).

  • Reduced visa fees: standard fees for a Skilled Worker visa range frrom £625 (for up to 3 years) to £1,423 (for more than 3 years). For occupations on the SOL the costs are £479 and £943 respectively.
  • The salary discount also applies at the time of submitting a settlement/ILR application.
  • Although supplementary work is not allowed in most cases whilst on a Skilled Worker visa, it is permitted where an occupation is on the SOL.
  • Asylum seekers with an outstanding claim for more than 12 months may apply for permission to work if the occupation is on the SOL.

What is the going rate for an occupation?

Going rates are published under Appendix Skilled Occupations. 

They are derived from the Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (ASHE) data and represent the 25th percentile of full-time annual wages.

The current going rates are based on ASHE 2019.

What will not be considered for the review of this SOL?

  • Occupations that will not benefit from being on the SOL – as set out above
  • Occupations for which no evidence is submitted through the Call for Evidence (CfE)
  • No jobs will remain on the SOL indefinitely.

What are the main considerations when assessing whether an occupation should be on the SOL?

  1. Is the occupation in shortage based on data-driven indicators of labour market conditions derived from national representative datasets? The indicators are based on pay, hours worked, employment and vacancies and are combined with qualitative evidence from stakeholders.
  2. Is it sensible to fill these shortages with migrant workers? This is decided based on the CfE questionnaires.

What is the Call for Evidence (CfE) questionnaire?

The MAC reviews the SOL based information received from staekholders via the CfE, alongside data on shortage and information from other sources, such as stakeholder events.

There are three different questionnaires that can be completed based on whether yuo are responding:

There are 2 core sections in the CfE: Section B and Section C.

Section B is split into 2 parts:

Section B: Occupations in shortage

You will need to provide the relevant Standard Occupation Classification (SoC) Codes for the occupations you think should go on the SOL.

To respond to this section please look up your SoC code using the ONS toolkit

You can submit evidence that all occupations in a SoC Code are in shortage or only some occupations (for example, only mechanics rather than SoC code 5321 as a whole)

Section B: Shortage indicators

This includes questions on how data on shortages compares with your experience or of the organisations you represent.

Section C: Why an occupation should go on the SOL

This should include answers to whether it is appropriate to recruit migrant workers to resolve shortages.

A job being identified as shortage may not be sufficient if there are other options available besides migration , for example: if the shortages can be resolved by improving job offers through better conditions or pay, expanding recruitment strategies to attract the unemployed or investing in technology to reduce dependency on labour.

All responses to the CfE must be submitted by 26 May 2023.

If you are struggling with labour shortages and do not currently hold a sponsor licence get in touch with the Migrate UK team for assistance with your application.


Copyright 2023 Migrate-UK Ltd

Migrate UK Ltd is a company registered England and Wales (Company No. 05089081) 99 Park Drive, Milton Park, Abingdon, England, OX14 4RY

  • OISC logo
  • ILPA Member logo