The Home Secretary, Priti Patel, MP has said the UK Government will not be immediately implementing any of the recommendations from the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) report on the Shortage Occupations Lists (SOLs).
The Home Secretary said “At this time, the Government has decided not to immediately accept any of the recommendations contained in the MAC’s SOL report.”
The means that fishermen will now have to wait for the Home Secretary to decide whether to implement the report which would give the occupation a new status.
It was hoped that SOLs report would bring an end to the problems of recruiting foreign crews after the report recommended that fishermen should be regarded as skilled workers.
The MAC had recommended adding deckhands on fishing vessels 9 metres and above as skilled workers, which would leave them eligible to be sponsored for a work permit. The SOLs report also recommended that they would also qualify for a minimum salary of £20,480 rather than the standard minimum of 25,600.
Acceptance of the MAC’s recommendations would have meant foreign fishermen could have obtained visas which would have permitted them and their family members to enter the UK as long as they fulfilled required criteria.
In her letter to Professor Brian Bell from the MAC, Patel writes:
“You will be very aware the UK labour market is changing rapidly and it will, no doubt, have changed since I commissioned this report and since you considered your recommendations. At this time, the Government has decided not to immediately accept any of the recommendations contained in the MAC’s SOL report.
“Before making any changes to the SOLs, we believe it is right to pause and assess how the UK labour market develops and how quickly recovery is evidenced post-Covid 19 and in response to the introduction of the new Points-Based Immigration System, in terms of overall numbers, understanding migrant and employer behaviours, and where incoming migrants go (both geographically and by sector).
“Not to forget assessing the impact of a range of unprecedented measures we have taken during the pandemic and recently launched policies, including the new Health and Care visa and the relaunched Global Talent route.
“We have always been clear we want to introduce a system which can be adapted and adjusted subject to social and economic circumstances. We also want employers to prioritise and invest in those people already in the UK, a point you recognise as being of vital importance in relation to the social care sector, upskilling our current work force rather than automatically seeking to bring in the skills and talents we need from overseas.
“As you know, freedom of movement continues until the end of this year and any EEA or Swiss national who arrives in the UK by then, and applies to the EU Settlement Scheme by 30 June 2021, will continue to enjoy unrestricted work rights. There have been over 4 million applications already. This provides employers with additional flexibility in the short term while we give further considerations to the Committee’s recommendations.
“We are absolutely not rejecting the advice of the MAC, which continues to be invaluable in ensuring a wide range of views are captured and expertly scrutinised, providing the much needed element of transparency. At this stage, given the reasons outlined above, we intend to continue scrutinising the recommendations to ensure our approach to applying them aligns with the UK labour market, and will consider whether to implement some or all of them in a forthcoming set of changes to the Immigration Rules in 2021. When and how we reach decisions on the recommendations contained in this report will also impact on the timeline for future reviews of the SOLs by the MAC.”