Nursing will remain as a listed occupation on the shortage occupation list, after the first review of the list in six years recommended the profession maintain its place.
The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC), responsible for compiling the list of occupations for which it has been deemed there is a shortage of domestic recruits, decided to keep nursing on the list after stakeholders informed them of the ‘difficulties in the recruitment of nurses’ and high vacancy rates.
Their report noted that, out of all occupations, nursing is the highest user of Tier 2 general visas – the visas given to workers outside of the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland who have been offered a job in the UK – indicating that the profession is already filling many vacancies with overseas recruits.
In 2018, 5,106 nurses were recruited in the UK on Tier 2 visas, an increase on the 2,780 recruited using the same method in 2017.
The report’s shortage indicator rank – a score that demonstrates the severity of shortages for a given occupation – placed nursing 47th out of 105
But the MAC ruled against adding midwives to the list, ignoring requests from the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC).
They claimed that despite the DHSC’s presentation of data on vacancy rates and increase in complicated births, the shortage indicator rank for the profession placed it 101st out of 105, due in part to very few midwives being recruited using Tier 2 visas, showing ‘almost no use of the current work migration route to employ migrants.’
In comparison to the more than 5,000 nurses on Tier 2 visas in 2018, midwifery saw only one Tier 2 recruit in the same period.
Being placed on the shortage occupation list gives the professional advantages over others when it comes to recruiting from outside the EEA and Switzerland.
Applicants for Tier 2 visas pay lower fees if their profession is on the list, and the employer does not have to show that they have attempted to recruit domestically.
The list covers the whole of the UK, although Scotland has their own shortage list, but the MAC have recommended that Wales and Northern Ireland also have a list specific to their nations.
Occupations on the list are still subject to the same salary restrictions as others when recruiting from overseas – the applicant must be filling a role earning at least £30,000 per year. But nursing is one of a number of professions exempt from the higher rate, with applicants instead required to earn just £20,800 per year.
Back in March, the Government extended this salary exemption for nursing.