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Shortage Occupation List review – what the education sector needs to know

The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) has published its long-awaited, full review of the Shortage Occupation List (SoL). We consider the recommendations made by the MAC and highlight those of particular relevance to your sector.

Shortage Occupation List

The SoL is a list of occupations that do not have enough settled workers in the UK to fill available jobs in particular sectors. It is a way of prioritising jobs where shortages are most severe and where the consequences of not filling the vacancies are most serious. These jobs are then given preferential treatment when a UK company is trying to sponsor a non-EEA migrant to fill the vacancy.

The last review of the SoL was conducted by MAC in 2013, since then there have been a number of developments to the UK labour market – unemployment is lower, vacancies are higher but free movement is no longer plugging the gap that it once did.

There are a number of benefits to occupations being placed on the SoL list, both for migrants and for employers:

1.    Resident Labour Market Test

A Resident Labour Market Test does not need to be carried out before filling a job shortage that is included on the SoL. This means employers do not need to demonstrate that they have attempted to recruit the position domestically before hiring a migrant – saving time and money on recruitment processes.

2.    Salary Threshold

Occupations on the SoL do not need to meet the minimum £35,800 salary threshold required for settlement in the UK after five years. This requirement is also waived if the job has been on the SoL in the previous 5 years. Jobs on the SoL do still have to meet the same salary thresholds as Tier 2 (General) applicants. The current threshold is £30,000 for experienced workers and can be as low as £20,800 for new entrants in certain occupations.

3.    Priority

Roles on the SoL are prioritised if the limit of new entrants under Tier 2 (General) of 20,700 is reached. Occupations on the SoL are automatically granted 320 points out of a maximum 480, which is a higher level than could possibly be achieved by occupations not on the SoL such that these roles are prioritised for recruitment by the Home Office.

4.    Fees

Applicants and their families will pay lower visa application fees if their occupation is on the SoL.

The MAC report highlights a number of current challenges in the education sector. Pay continues to be a significant factor affecting recruitment and retention in the sector. As state school teachers’ salaries are centrally determined and in band format, pay increases are slower than comparable sectors. In addition, it is suggested that working conditions and workload stress concerns are driving individuals away from teaching.

The increase in teacher need is concentrated amongst secondary education teachers, particularly with the requirement for around 15,000 new secondary education teachers by 2027/28 to deal with the predicted increase in students. Analysis has shown that there is an undersupply of Design and Technology teachers, Computing, Maths and Physics teachers but a surplus of Physical Education, Biology, English and History teachers.


The MAC report has recommended that secondary education teaching professions are maintained on the SoL, but with a suggested alteration to the eligibility criteria to include teachings in the following subjects:

  • Maths;
  • Physics;
  • Science (where an element of physics will be taught);
  • Computer science;
  • Mandarin; and
  • Scottish Gaelic (to the Scottish SoL).

The shortage of secondary education teachers for modern foreign languages was also seriously considered and whilst the shortage is recognised, little evidence was found of recruitment from the EEA taking place to fill this shortage.

Both higher education and primary and nursery education teaching professionals ranked fairly low in the shortage occupation indicators and so did not warrant inclusion on the SoL.


These recommendations put forward by the MAC will be considered by UK Visas and Immigration. It is expected that these will be accepted and an updated SoL implemented in the near future making it easier to recruit from overseas into a wider range of hard to fill roles.

If you require regarding sponsorship of non-EEA nationals or other visa matters, please get in touch.

Please note that this briefing is designed to be informative, not advisory and represents our understanding of English law and practice as at the date indicated. We would always recommend that you should seek specific guidance on any particular legal issue.

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