The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) has been commissioned to conduct a partial review of the Shortage Occupation Lists for the UK and Scotland. This review provides the digital technology sector with an opportunity to voice any concerns with the current immigration framework and any issues faced in respect of hiring skilled workers from outside the EEA.

The MAC will review all suitably qualified occupations within three key sectors:

  • graduate occupations within the health sector;
  • graduate occupations within the digital technology sector; and
  • overhead lines workers within the electricity generating sector.

These sectors were selected following the Government’s receipt of evidence to suggest the existence of on-going issues with the supply of suitably skilled workers.

In particular, the MAC will consider whether or not there is indeed a labour shortage in the relevant occupation or in relation to specific jobs within that occupation and, if so, whether it would be sensible to fill the vacancies using labour from outside the European Economic Area (EEA). If such a shortage is deemed to exist and recruiting non-EEA skilled migrants is considered sensible, the MAC will recommend that the occupation or job title be included, or remain, on the Shortage Occupation List.

The Shortage Occupation route enables employers to apply to bring in workers from outside the EEA without the need for engaging the resident labour market test (RLMT). Thus, employers are not required to first demonstrate that there is no suitably qualified worker from within the UK or the EEA available to fill a specific vacancy before employing a non-EEA worker, as is required where the RLMT applies.

The MAC will therefore consider whether digital technology occupations or job titles should be included on the Shortage Occupation List or remain so if already present. In determining whether to recommend an occupation or job title for inclusion or retention on the list, the occupation must pass the following three tests:

  • the position must require a sufficient degree of skill;
  • there must be a shortage of labour within the particular skilled position; and
  • it must be sensible for immigrant labour from outside the EEA to be used to fill the shortage.

When responding to this call for evidence, digital technology employers should consider these three criteria in order to justify why a particular occupation or job title should be included on the Shortage Occupation List.

The closing date for submissions for the call for evidence is 5 December 2014, although employers are urged to submit their evidence earlier where possible.