Staff shortages

Recruitment of key workers under threat.

Shortages of skilled workers in Scotland across key sectors of the economy such as health and social care will be made worse after Brexit, Migration Minister Ben Macpherson warned today.

The warning forms part of the Scottish Government’s submission to the UK Government’s Migration Advisory Committee about the range of occupations which are officially classed as suffering from a shortage of staff.

The Scottish Government has no formal role in reviews of skills shortages in Scotland, but has today published extensive evidence on issues facing a range of sectors including tourism, construction, financial services, agriculture, and education.

In addition, a parallel report focuses on the specific issues facing health and social care, where professionals from a wide range of countries play a vital part in delivering essential services in communities all across Scotland.

Speaking on a visit to Carr Gomm in Edinburgh, a nationwide social care provider, Mr Macpherson said:

“These papers provide detailed evidence on recruitment needs across the whole Scottish economy, with a particular focus on our vital health and social care sectors. That focus is especially important as UK immigration policy after leaving the EU could create a barrier to entry-level routes into health and care professions in Scotland. Salaries in social care in particular would typically not meet the UK Government’s proposed £30,000 minimum threshold, with average salaries closer to £18,000.

“Our submission also outlines how the Shortage Occupation List for Scotland could be made more flexible and responsive to the needs of the Scottish economy and public service delivery. For example, we’ve argued for some time that there should be a specific role for the Scottish Government in commissioning and determining what occupations are in shortage in Scotland. I will continue to press the UK Government to consider additional mechanisms to address the particular needs of Scotland as we engage with them on the proposals in their White Paper.

“The fact that there is an additional Shortage Occupation List for Scotland shows that the UK Government recognises to some extent that a one-size-fits-all approach to migration is not appropriate for Scotland, and the evidence we’ve published today shows how the list could be expanded to go some way to meeting the needs of business and public services here. However, even if adjustments are made to the Shortage Occupation List for Scotland, the UK Government’s Immigration White Paper will still have significantly damaging implications for Scotland. That is why, as well as adjusting the Shortage Occupation List for Scotland, there is increasing interest in creating tailored immigration solutions for Scotland within a UK framework.

“I welcome the proposal by the UK Government in their Immigration White Paper to also establish additional lists for Wales and Northern Ireland, demonstrating there is scope for flexibility in the UK immigration system to deliver tailored approaches for different parts of the UK. I look forward to further engagement with the UK Government to consider other tailored solutions for Scotland, as well as emphasising to them the widespread concerns that there are in Scotland about what they’re proposing in their White Paper.”


Read the Scottish Government responses to the MAC 2018/19: Call for evidence on the Shortage Occupation List:

Core Scottish Government response

Health and social care response

The Shortage Occupation Lists are decided by the UK government on the advice of the MAC, published by the UK government each year, detailing the jobs which lack sufficient trained professionals in the resident labour market, and are eligible for certain dispensations when applying for a Tier 2 (skilled worker) visa.

The £30,000 salary threshold proposed by the UK Government’s White Paper is above the level earned by 45.4% of nurses, 25% of physiotherapists, 29.5% of occupational therapists, and 31.9% of healthcare scientists and the majority of those working in social care.



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