As of this summer, occupations related to fishing are to be added to the UK government’s Shortage Occupation List (SOL) following recommendations from the Migration Advisory Committee.
A labour crisis has been developing in the UK in recent years, particularly since leaving the EU and the single market put serious pressure in terms of available workforce on a number of industry sectors – of which fishing is one.
The move by the government relaxes the rigid requirements applied to immigrant labour, as inclusion on the Short Occupation List means jobs qualify at a 20% lower salary threshold (£20,960 instead of £26,200). Applicants also pay lower fees (£479 for a three-year visa instead of £625). The broader English language requirements of the Skilled Worker route also apply on the SOL.
The new roles added to the Shortage Occupation List follow the inclusion of five construction-related roles added at the Spring Budget, after the government accepted the independent, evidence-based recommendations of the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC).
To be included on the Shortage Occupation List, a role must not only be skilled and in shortage, it must also be seen as worthwhile for inclusion on the list in the context of alternative solutions to tackling the shortage, other than through immigration.
According to the MMO, it is not the purpose of the immigration system to provide a source of workers at pay and conditions which are not attractive to resident workers.
The Shortage Occupation List will remain under review to ensure it reflects the current labour market.
The Ministry of Immigration described the inclusion of fishing on the Shortage Occupation List as forming ‘part of the £100m UK Seafood Fund, to help modernise facilities, train and upskill fishermen, and invest in better scientific research on key fish stocks.’
The authorities have pledged to provide guidance through visa and sponsor applications, to ensure sufficient capacity for English language testing, to expedite visa and sponsor applications, and to maintain dedicated points of contact in UK Visas and Immigration for the sector.