When it comes to the world of work, it always pays to be in demand. If you are lucky enough to be in a profession for which there is a robust need, you will have the pick of a range of vacancies and be able to negotiate terms and pay which are advantageous to you. For migrant workers planning to come to the UK or already in the UK, being in a shortage occupation means that it is easier and faster to find suitable employment and switch between employers if desired.
Amar Ali, Director at Reiss Edwards guides us through the UK immigration Shortage Occupation List and the five most in-demand roles in the UK in 2021.
What is the UK Shortage Occupation List?
The UK’s Home Office publishes and regularly updates its official list of the professions for which there are not enough candidates within the UK; this is referred to as the Shortage Occupation List (SOL). The idea being that preference is given to migrant workers who can fulfil a role for which there is a shortage by lowering the criteria they need to meet.
The SOL contains 30 different job types for which eligible migrant workers only need to be paid 80% or more of the job’s normal going rate (as long as this is not less than £20,480). The roles on the SOL include:
- Health services and public health managers and directors
- Biological scientists and biochemists
- Civil engineers
- Electrical engineers
- IT business analysts, architects and systems designers
- Graphic designers
- Senior care workers
If your occupation is not listed on the SOL, do not be disheartened. The wider list of eligible occupations for the Skilled Worker visa contains a much broader range of professions, which, while they may not be on the shortage list, may still be in great demand.
However, It is always recommended where possible to seek the advice of immigration solicitors for your visa application as a migrant skilled worker looking to come to the UK to work.
What are the most in-demand occupations in the UK?
For the purposes of this list, we will look at occupations that are experiencing high demand and are listed on the SOL. To do this, we will reference recent information published by the online recruitment website, Glassdoor.
- Project Manager – There are currently in the region of 27,000 project management vacancies in the UK, according to Glassdoor, and these are only the ones it knows about. Part of the reason that project managers are in such high demand is they are required across all industry sectors. Project managers are not on the SOL, but they are mentioned several times on the Skilled Worker visa eligible occupation list in different sectors, including:
- Construction project managers
- IT project managers
- Business and financial project management professionals
- Projects Manager (advertising)
In addition, there are other related jobs that are also in high demand, including project coordinators and project administrators. The average base salary is around £45,000, so project managers will not struggle to meet the Skilled Worker salary requirement of £25,600. If you have PRINCE II or APM PMQ qualifications, be assured you will be in high demand in the UK.
- Software engineers – those with strong software development skills continue to be in hot demand in the UK. Glassdoor currently has around 15,000 vacancies for software engineers, and this occupation is also listed on the SOL. That said, given that the average pay for software engineers is now £55,000, you won’t have much of a problem meeting the minimum salary requirement for the Skilled Worker visa. The vacancies on offer are also spread across the country, meaning that you will have the pick of places to live in the UK.
- Operations Managers – operations managers, play a key role in keeping businesses ticking over, whether they provide services, manufacture products, or deal with shipping and transport. Glassdoor currently has around 14,000 vacancies for operations managers of different types, including technical ops managers, head of operations, operations planners and even global operations managers. The base salary for operations managers is around £42,500 but can easily rise to double this for senior operations directors. Operations managers are not on the SOL, but they are one of the eligible Skilled Worker visa occupations, hence a great option for prospective migrant workers coming to the UK.
- Business analyst – IT Business Analyst are included on the shortage occupation list, requiring only 80% of the going rate of £29,280 (£14.44 per hour). There are currently around 10,000 vacancies for Business Analyst roles across the UK and over 6,000 specifically for IT Business Analysts.
- Nurses – it will come as little surprise to most that there is a huge demand for nurses in the UK. Nurses are listed on the healthcare-specific shortage occupation list, and as of November 2020, there were around 36,000 vacancies across the UK. So acute is the shortage, according to NHS Digital, in the second quarter of 2020/21, nearly 10% of all full-time nursing roles in the UK were vacant. If you have nursing qualifications, you will be in considerable demand in the UK. In addition, as you will be able to apply for the UK’s Health and Care visa, your application will be fast-tracked, and you will not need to pay the immigration healthcare surcharge meaning you can access the NHS at no cost (this is normally £624 per person per year).
This is only a small selection of the many in-demand jobs in the UK. The number of eligible jobs under the Skilled Worker visa scheme is now much broader than under the Tier 2 (General) visa route, which came to an end in December 2020 due to the lowering of the skills threshold from RQF 6 to RQF 3. As such, the opportunities for migrant workers in the UK is now greater than ever.