The report published by the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) this week recommended that ten new roles be added to the shortage occupation list, four of these being tech related.

The MAC was asked to carry out a partial review of the shortage occupation list in respect of three industries, the health sector, the tech sector and linesworkers in the energy industry. The inclusion of the tech sector in this list was due to lobbying by Tech London Advocates (TLA). Pat Saini and Leslie Sarma of Penningtons Manches LLP are co-chairs of the TLA Talent and Immigration Working Group.

THE RECOMMENDED ROLES TO BE ADDED

The MAC recommends that the following four tech related roles be added to the shortage occupation list:

  • product manager
  • data scientist
  • senior developer
  • cyber security specialist 

Following the recommendations of the joint submission by TLA and Penningtons Manches LLP, the MAC suggests that these roles be limited to individuals with five years or more experience, and demonstrable experience of having led a team, to be employed by start-ups and scale-ups. It will be for the Government to decide where to draw the line in terms of the size of the company that is able to benefit from employing individuals under these categories. The MAC recommends that the Government restricts the use of the categories on the basis of the number of employees or turnover. 

The additional roles recommended to be added to the shortage occupation list were: clinical radiology consultants; non-consultant, non-training roles in paediatrics; core trainees in psychiatry; and low voltage linesworkers. 

BENEFITS OF BEING ON THE SHORTAGE OCCUPATION LIST

The key benefit of adding these roles to the shortage occupation list would be that employers would not be required to advertise the role for 28 days before they are able to recruit a non-EEA national. This would speed up and streamline the recruitment of such individuals which is of paramount importance to the survival/success of smaller tech companies. 

Additionally, should the Tier 2 quota be reached, applications for roles on the shortage occupation list will be given priority over other applications. 

NEXT STEPS

The Statement of Changes put before Parliament on 26 February 2015 states that the Government intends to implement further changes to the Shortage Occupation List recommended by the MAC, relating to graduate occupations in the digital technology sector, for recruits of scale-up companies in the near future. It is good news for the sector as the Government has (so far) always implemented the shortage occupation recommendations of the MAC. 

FUTURE REFORM

Although not strictly within its remit under this particular review, the MAC also suggested the possibility of introducing a third party umbrella sponsor whereby a wider organisation is allowed to sponsor individuals on behalf of smaller employers.

In addition to this, the MAC also acknowledged the potential benefits to lowering the criteria under the Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) category as they are currently prohibitively high.

These recommendations follow the suggestions of both the TLA and Penningtons Manches LLP’s submission to the MAC and previously submitted policy proposals by the same organisations in March 2014.

The MAC accepts that the tech sector requires a tailored solution and it is hoped that these recommendations will be the start of further discourse between the Government and the sector. 

For a full copy of the MAC report, please click here.