Social care amongst several roles that must be on Shortage Occupation List

One in ten social care workers are migrants making a vital contribution.

The new immigration system being proposed by the UK Government would leave Scotland’s vital social care sector critically short of staff, according to a new report. It would also damage a number of other important sectors in Scotland.

The Scottish Government’s response to the Migration Advisory Committee’s call for evidence on the UK Shortage Occupation List (SOL) highlights that the social work and residential care sectors are heavily reliant on migrants, with almost 10% of roles filled by workers from outside the UK - the majority of whom would not qualify for a visa under the so-called ‘skilled worker’ route currently being proposed by the UK Government.

Ben Macpherson, Minister for Public Finance and Migration said the remarkable contribution of non-UK citizens working in health and social care, and other sectors, has been brought into especially sharp focus during the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis.

He said social care roles must now be added to the SOL, in order to prevent a labour shortage in this crucial sector.

The response shows 29,300 non-UK nationals work in health and social care.

Mr Macpherson said:

“Care professionals from all over the world have played a vital role in caring for our communities during the COVID-19 crisis.

“It is mind-boggling that the UK Government has introduced a ‘Health and Care visa’, intended to show the UK’s gratitude to frontline workers in these sectors, but that this initiative bizarrely continues to exclude and disregard the huge contribution of social care workers.

“I urge the UK Government to do the right thing and include care workers as eligible for the recently announced ‘Health and Care visa’, so that people who make and have made such an important contribution to our society, particularly recently, can benefit from reduced fees, a fast-track application service, and exemption from the Immigration Health Surcharge.

“This report, responding to the Migration Advisory Committee’s call for evidence on the UK Shortage Occupation List (SOL), shows how the UK Government’s ending of freedom of movement, and no replacement general route for what they have wrongly and offensively deemed ‘lower-skilled’ migrants, will be damaging to social care provision and key Scottish sectors of the Scottish economy. Adding social care roles to the SOL would allow employers to recruit international workers at a lower salary threshold of £20,480, instead of the proposed £25,600.

“The Scottish Government is clear – we greatly value the skills and contributions of all people who come and settle in Scotland. Inward migration enriches our society for the better and migrants make a net contribution to our economy, our public services and our public finances. Family migration also contributes positively to our demography, and the sustainability of rural and remote communities.”


Read SG response to Migration Advisory Committee on review of Shortage Occupation List 2020

The UK’s Shortage Occupation List (SOL) specifies roles deemed by the Government to be in short supply within the UK resident labour market. Roles on the list benefit from relaxed immigration requirements, allowing employers to hire talent from overseas at a lower salary threshold to meet their skills needs. 

Adding social care roles to the SOL would mean that employers would be able to recruit international workers at a lower salary threshold of £20,480.  

Care workers currently don’t meet the criteria for Tier 2 and therefore have been excluded from the recently announced Health and Care Visa.

There are 924,600 key workers in Scotland, 34.7% of all people in employment. Non-UK (EU and non-EU) nationals account for 7.5% (69,000) of all key workers.

Other highlights from the Scottish Government response:

  • of all non-UK nationals employed in key sectors; 29,300 (42.5%) work in health and social care; 16,600 (24.0%) work in food and necessary goods, 5,800 (8.4%) work in education
  • while non-UK nationals only form about 10% of the UK labour force overall they are over-represented among key workers such as health professionals (23%), nurses and midwives (19%) basic security jobs (21%) or care jobs (16%)
  • gender imbalance is particularly pronounced among nurses and midwives and care workers, where a majority of foreign born key workers are women
  • some sectors are more dependent on migrant key workers. The highest shares of key workers (migrants) are in health (81%), social work and residential care (65%) and education (58%). Overall, migrants form 17% of this key workforce in the UK
  • less than half of UK-born and over half of UK-born and workers born overseas are in occupation RQF 3 and above




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