FIS welcomes the announcement in the Budget that the MAC has added a number of new construction trades to the Shortage Occupation List and opted to add Dry Lining to the list of occupations in the Skilled Worker List. This is significant as it potentially provides access to a controlled immigration process that will support the sector in managing any existing or upcoming shortages in our workforce. Other trades most relevant to the finishes and interiors sector now included on the Shortage Occupation List are plastering and carpentry and joinery (both of which were already on the Skilled Worker List).
In advance of starting the full SOL review, MAC were, in advance of the Budget expedited review of occupations in the construction and hospitality sectors, recommending the addition of eligible occupations to the SOL and RQF 1-2 occupations to the Skilled Worker (SW) route where appropriate.
To be eligible for the SOL, an occupation must fulfil the eligibility requirements of the SW route. A job must be classified into a Regulated Qualifications Framework (RQF) level 3-5 skill group or above and meet a minimum annual salary threshold. The Government has uprated these thresholds as part of the routine Spring package of Immigration Rules that were laid on 9 March 2023, following which (subject to Parliamentary approval) this minimum threshold will be £26,200. For this review, the Government have asked that we also consider currently ineligible RQF 1-2 occupations for possible inclusion on the SOL. However, the Government have made clear that such inclusion should be rare, and so the bar is high for such occupations to be added.
Table 5.3: Recommendations for occupations in construction
|5311||Steel erectors||Do not recommend for addition to the SOL|
|5312||Bricklayers and masons||Recommend for addition to the SOL|
|5313||Roofers, roof tilers and slaters||Recommend for addition to the SOL|
|5315||Carpenters and joiners||Recommend for addition to the SOL|
|5319||Construction and building trades n.e.c.||Recommend for addition to the SOL|
|5321||Plasterers||Recommend for addition to the SOL and recommend that ‘Dryliners’ but not ‘Ceiling fixers’ are moved to this SOC code|
|8141||Scaffolders, stagers and riggers||Do not recommend for addition to the SOL|
|8142||Road construction operatives||Do not recommend for addition to the SOL|
|8149||Construction operatives n.e.c.||Do not recommend for addition to the SOL Recommend that ‘Dryliners’ but not ‘Ceiling fixers’ are moved from this SOC code to SOC code 5321 (Plasterers)|
|8229||Mobile machine drivers and operatives n.e.c.||Do not recommend for addition to the SOL|
|9120||Elementary construction occupations||Do not recommend for addition to the SOL|
By moving Dry Lining into the Standard Occupation Classification area 5321 (as per FIS recommendation and lobbying work on the SOC), Dry Lining is now also shares skilled worker status with Plastering for the purposes of being a Skilled Worker.
Commenting on the changes, FIS CEO Iain McIlwee stated:
“It is a relief to finally see Dry Lining recognised as both a skilled occupation and also the shortages that we face as a sector. This is something FIS have been campaigning on for a number of years and I am grateful to colleagues from across the Construction Leadership Council for their efforts in helping to effect this exceptional change and thankful that we now have some movement. We now need to respond to the detailed review taking place to identify other areas of concern and revisit the sponsor and visa process to better understand any further blockers and issues”.