The UK Border Agency have announced today a major shake-up of the Tier 2 shortage occupations list, with large numbers of jobs being disqualified as the government sets to raise the qualification entry level to NQF 4.
The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC), the independent body which reports to the government on migration and labour issues, has recommended a new shorter list of occupations eligible under Tier 2 of the points-based system.
The agency said:
‘As part of its review of the immigration system, the government raised the threshold for Tier 2 visas to ‘graduate level’ and commissioned the MAC to examine which occupations should qualify.’
The government have instructed MAC to adopt a minimum National Qualifications Framework (NQF) level 4, instead of the current level 3, and above as the relevant benchmark. This will have the immediate effect of slashing the number of occupations qualifying for Tier 2 working visas from 192 to 121, a reduction of 71 jobs, which could include the likes of level 3 rated Chefs and Senior Carers.
The shorter list of occupations means that Tier 2 applicants will only be able to apply for jobs covering the most skilled 39 per cent of the labour market rather than the current 56 per cent.
Chair of the Migration Advisory Committee, Professor David Metcalf, said:
‘Skilled foreign workers make a valuable contribution to the British economy but, in the context of limits on migration, it is essential that the immigration system is designed to select those migrants we need the most.
‘We have recognised this by ensuring our recommendations will allow the most skilled to continue to come and work here.’
Occupations which would still qualify for entry under Tier 2 of the points-based system include: nurses, teaching professionals, civil engineers and finance and investment analysts.
The public announcement did not specifically mention Senior Carers and Chefs (which are under review by MAC) but said that occupations which were qualified as skilled to the old level but are not to the new one include retail managers, hairdressing and beauty salon managers, laboratory technicians, and estate agents.
Whilst these are ‘recommendations’ at this stage, Senior Carers with less than 5 years continuous work, or those forced to change employer, could be affected unless some sort of transition arrangements are put in place or the job is classified as level 4.
The UK Government has set out its stall to reduce immigration to the ‘tens of thousands’ and Tier 2 working migrants, as well as Tier 4 student proposals announced last week, are very much in the firing line.
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