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Last edited 27 Feb 2021
Shortage occupation list SOL
The shortage occupation list (SOL) is published by the UK government annually to highlight all the occupations and job titles that are in short supply either across the UK or in Scotland only. The aim is to ensure that immigrants from outside the EU coming to the UK do not bring with them skills that are already in plentiful supply. Occupations on the list are the only ones open to migrants from outside the European Economic Area (EEA).
The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) reviews the list periodically and makes recommendations to the government about which professions should be removed and which added. If the resident workforce can fill specialist jobs, they will be removed from the list.
For example, in October 2011, the MAC advised the government that among others, pharmacists, biology teachers and vets should be taken off the list; while added to the list were high integrity pipe welders, geochemists and actuaries.
In May 2019, having been commissioned by the government to conduct a full review of the SOL, the MAC made its recommendations based on a public consultation seeking evidence from stakeholders which ran from 9 November 2018 to 14 January 2019. It advised first, that vets, web designers and architects should be added to the list. Second, that numerous occupations should be expanded to include all roles within them. Recognising the difficulty of filling certain roles, the MAC proposed the inclusion of all roles in occupations such as medical practitioners, nurses, programmers and software development professionals. These additions meant that the list covered 9% of jobs in the labour market, compared to 1% under the former list.
- Show that national shortages cannot be filled by the domestic labour market.
- Be skilled to the required level set by the Home Office.
- Demonstrate that it is sensible to seek to fill vacancies with migrant labour from outside the EEA.
 Resident labour market test (RLM)
Under the Resident Labour Market Test, if an employer has a role that they maintain cannot be filled by a Tier 2 visa worker, they must prove to UK Visas and Immigration that no 'settled worker'* is available for the role they wish to fill. They do this by usually advertising the job in at least two places (eg in the ‘Find a Job’ government-owned website and on a private sector job site). They must also review and keep details on why applicants were, if relevant, rejected for the position. The Home Office may also decide to check the employer’s records at any time.
A settled worker is one of the following:
- A UK national.
- An EEA national who is exercising their 'treaty right' to free movement (to work in the UK).
- A citizen of a UK Overseas Territory, except citizens of Sovereign Base Areas in Cyprus.
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