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Sponsor licence News: Construction Jobs Added to the Shortage Occupation List

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Published by the Head of Business Immigration, Mr Hans Sok Appadu and Sponsorship Licence lawyer, Ms Sanae Sahebjalal

Our immigration solicitors assist many construction companies from those specialising in high-end house building to new build developers to those focussed on the commercial sector. All our construction business clients will be delighted to read the news that the UK government has agreed to extend the shortage occupation list to include additional construction roles.

In this blog, our immigration solicitors look at what the announcement means for construction businesses from those who already have a sponsor licence to those who have been debating about applying for a sponsor licence to sponsor skilled worker visa applicants but had not yet taken the step of applying to the Home Office for a licence.

UK Online and London-Based Immigration Solicitors and Sponsorship Licence Lawyers

For specialist sponsor licence and skilled worker visa advice call OTS Solicitors on 0203 959 9123 or contact us online.

Construction roles added to the shortage occupation list

The construction roles added to the shortage occupation list include:

  • Bricklayers
  • Carpenters and joiners
  • Masons
  • Plasterers
  • Roofers
  • Roof tilers and slaters

Whilst the headline news has all been about reducing net migration to the UK from its current 606,000 figure the government has announced the changes in the construction industry as a means to "aid the delivery of key national infrastructure and stimulate growth for related industries".

Our Sponsorship Licence lawyers have welcomed the addition of these construction sector roles to the shortage occupation list as we know full well from our years of business immigration expertise in the construction sector that building companies are facing acute labour shortages. Those who criticise adding these roles to the shortage occupation list do not understand that even if the UK starts apprentice schemes for plasterers today, the individuals will not have the skills required for some considerable time.

Construction jobs are not low skilled

There is a common misconception that jobs in the construction sector are low-skilled but Sponsorship Licence lawyers disagree. That isn’t because there is no UK low-skilled work visa for construction firms to use but because it takes time, training and aptitude to master a trade. Not all skilled jobs require degrees or even formal A levels.

Some construction firms are put off from applying for a sponsor licence because of the perception that some or most aspects of construction work are low-skilled. Therefore they assume there is no point in applying for a sponsor licence. The latest additions to the shortage occupation list prove that is incorrect and that a sponsor licence can help most UK construction companies.

What the additions to the shortage occupation list mean

The added construction jobs do not just mean these types of workers can apply for sponsored employment and a skilled worker visa. They mean that a UK construction company can use the immigration rules on minimum salary thresholds for shortage occupation list jobs to their advantage.

If a job is on the shortage occupation list an employer has to either pay the minimum salary threshold or up to 80% of the going rate for the job. That equates to a potential 20% salary saving which should encourage companies to recruit skilled worker visa applicants or to apply for a first sponsor licence.

Why add construction jobs to the shortage occupation list

The shortage occupation list is finalised by the UK government after analysis and recommendations by the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC). In the latest MAC report in the section on construction, it was said ‘vacancies in the sector have risen substantially relative to pre-pandemic levels. This was a common theme in the sectoral evidence that the MAC received, and whilst the wider UK labour market has followed a similar pattern, there are other factors which help suggest the SOL may be an appropriate short-term solution to the shortage of labour specific to the construction industry’’.

The MAC report went on to say ‘’Stakeholder evidence suggests that there are sector-wide initiatives to improve recruitment and retention as well as already well-established training pathways. It also suggests that the industry is keen to increase direct employment, moving away from its traditionally high self-employment rate. Both actions show a desire in the industry to increase domestic recruitment and improve workers’ career development opportunities. Despite this, in some areas of the sector, there are still shortages which do not show signs of abating. In others, predicted future demand for workers exceeds expected supply levels. The MAC received substantial evidence which demonstrated the sector’s understanding of its workforce and how its makeup is likely to change in the next decade, with demand likely to increase markedly’’.

The report continues by saying ‘’In our deliberations on the occupations discussed in this (construction) section, the MAC has given substantial weight to the strategic importance of construction for the UK economy and the significant positive externalities that the sector generates. This is both in infrastructure and house building and fits the ‘sensible’ criterion of public value’’.

Sponsorship Licence lawyers emphasise that just because a job has been placed on the shortage occupation list it does not necessarily mean that it will remain there. That’s why business immigration solicitors are recommending that construction companies with sponsor licences look at their recruitment needs to see if they can be met by overseas recruitment via the skilled worker visa. For firms in the construction industry without a sponsor licence, it may be the right time to apply for your first licence.

UK Online and London-Based Immigration Solicitors and Sponsorship Licence Lawyers

For specialist sponsor licence advice call OTS Solicitors on 0203 959 9123 or contact us online.

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