‘Blast from the Past’: recommendations for new migrant worker scheme from 2021 released

Sep 19, 2018



The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) has today released its report on the impact of EEA migration on the UK.

The aim of the report is to make recommendations for a new work-based immigration system to be implemented in 2021.

The latest MAC report recommends that the framework of the current Points Based System for sponsored workers remains but is thoroughly overhauled and provides options for some migrant workers not seen since April 2012. Should free movement end and no specific deals be formalised, the MAC does not believe EEA citizens should have any preferential treatment over non-EEA workers. Furthermore, the approach for attracting the ‘brightest and the best’ has shifted somewhat. The MAC recommends opening sponsorship to medium and high skilled workers (jobs at RQF Level 3 and above) and ending the immigration cap which can completely undermine an employer’s forward planning. Furthermore, the Resident Labour Market Test (advertising the vacancy for 4 weeks) should be abolished with employers deterred from relying on overseas workers through the immigration skills charge and a robust approach to salary thresholds. For the latter point, the MAC recommends having a minimum threshold of £30,000 for both medium and highly skilled jobs for experienced workers. With these points in mind, the future of the Shortage Occupation List is in doubt and the MAC will undertake a full review of the composition of the List and publish its findings in the Spring 2019.

The main recommendations are shown below. It is important to stress that the recommendations are just that. The Brexit negotiations may well have an impact here unless the UK has the power to set its own system (in a similar way to Canada where they are open and welcoming to immigration but no one country has preference). Also, once this this has been decided, the government can pick and choose the recommendations it wishes to implement.


Summary of recommendations for work migration post-Brexit

  1. General principle behind migration policy changes should be to make it easier for higher-skilled workers to migrate to the UK than lower-skilled workers.
  2. No preference for EU citizens, on the assumption UK immigration policy not included in agreement with EU.
  3. Abolish the cap on the number of migrants under Tier 2 (General).
  4. Tier 2 (General) to be open to all jobs at RQF Level 3 and above. (currently the minimum level is RQF Level 6 for the vast majority of roles). Shortage Occupation List will be fully reviewed in our next report in response to the SOL Commission.
  5. Maintain existing salary thresholds for all migrants in Tier 2.
  6. Retain but review the Immigration Skills Charge.
  7. Consider abolition of the Resident Labour Market Test (RLMT) – this is where you advertise a vacancy to the general public to check if a settled worker can do the job. If not abolished, extend the numbers of migrants who are exempt through lowering the salary required for exemption.
  8. Review how the current sponsor licensing system works for small and medium-sized businesses.
  9. Consult more systematically with users of the visa system to ensure it works as smoothly as possible.
  10. For lower-skilled workers avoid Sector-Based Schemes (with the potential exception of a Seasonal Agricultural Workers scheme)
  11. If a SAWS (Seasonal Agricultural Workers Scheme) scheme is reintroduced, ensure upward pressure on wages via an agricultural minimum wage to encourage increases in productivity
  12. If a “backstop” is considered necessary to fill low-skilled roles extend the Tier 5 Youth Mobility Scheme.
  13. Monitor and evaluate the impact of migration policies.
  14. Pay more attention to managing the consequences of migration at a local level.

Read the whole report here: