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Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the UK’s Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) has launched a Call for Evidence, which looks at the UK’s skill shortages and what the shortage occupation list may look like under the new UK immigration regime, expected next year. This blog considers what the Call for Evidence means for you.

 

What is the MAC?

The MAC is an independent, non-statutory, non-time limited, non-departmental public body that advises the UK government on migration issues. It is composed of a chair—Professor Brian Bell—and four other independent members.

 

What is the MAC Call for Evidence asking?

The Call for Evidence asks business groups and employers to share their knowledge of the recruitment market to help shape the shortage occupation list, a key part in the formation of the new UK immigration system. The request focuses on “medium skill” roles, or those between RQF 3-5, meaning A level or equivalent.

 

Why is the shortage occupation list important?

The shortage occupation list is the government’s official register of roles for which evidence suggests there are not enough UK workers to fill vacancies. Scotland has its own list in addition to the wider UK version.

The consultation could have significant ramifications for businesses in a post-Brexit UK immigration system. The shortage occupation list will be one of only a very small number of ways through which employers can recruit both EU and non-EU nationals via the sponsored worker route if they earn below the new salary threshold of £25,600, enabling them to “trade” points required to meet the required total.

It is especially crucial for employers who rely on resources from the Europe Economic Area (EEA) where local British staff cannot be found. 

 

How should I respond?

We would encourage companies, business groups and other interested parties to respond to the consultation and set out as clearly as possible, with evidence, the recruitment challenges they currently face in the UK and the skills shortages that affect the recruitment of roles at the medium skill level.  Respondents should consider their key current recruitment challenges, the drivers behind them and the impact that a restriction on the ability to recruit and retain EEA nationals could have on their UK operations after the Brexit transition period.

 

How long do I have?

The call for evidence remains open online for the next six weeks, closing on 24 June 2020. The MAC has until September 2020 to report its findings to the Home Secretary.  Due to the current pressure on organisations because of the COVID-19 pandemic, those currently unable to respond can also provide a more limited response or register their details for future input.

 

Where do I start? 

To begin with, we suggest you let the business know about the consultation and, as the MAC rely heavily on data, start to gather information on your recruitment practices and challenges, focusing most clearly on 1) what roles you struggle to recruit into and 2) the primary reason(s), which could be related to a lack of skills, qualifications, work experience, as well as other factors.

Fragomen is working through the MAC's call for evidence to prepare helpful advice and tools to best assist you in a response. We can also provide guidance through the process, assist in identifying your core messages and support in formulating your submission. For more information and guidance on this topic, please contact your Fragomen immigration professional or me, at [email protected].