The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) has recommended to Government that just eight occupations across the whole economy should be on the Shortage Occupations List (SOL) going forward, including three in construction (bricklayers and masons; roofers, roof tilers and slaters; and construction and building trades not elsewhere classified).

The reason cited is:

“Whilst respondents provided evidence of shortage, there was insufficient evidence provided by stakeholders about measures that had been taken to try to attract more workers. The occupation is of clear public value but attempts to fill the shortages should be made by the industry with the tools available, such as efforts to increase direct employment, creating attractive terms and conditions and benefits packages, and using the existing SW route. Only if these attempts are made but do not solve shortages, should the SOL be considered as a next step.”

However, the MAC is calling on Government to confirm whether or not the Skilled Worker route should be expanded to include low‐wage RQF 3 occupations in order to determine the future of the SOL.

In what would be a significant change of policy, the MAC proposes that the SOL should be either abolished or heavily reformed if Government does not support such occupations being included, in order to meet the demand for labour whilst ensuring that low‐wage workers are protected. The CLC is currently considering its response to the MAC report.

Commenting on the recommendations FIS CEO stated:

“At this stage these are only recommendations and I hope that Government show a bit of pragmatism and leadership.  The reality is that they have only just, in August!, added key trades like Dry Lining and Plastering to the Shortage List following consultation at the start of the year.   We are moving in to farcical terriotory here, not much is going to have changed in six weeks!! 

It is true that there are serious shortfalls in construction training, but they are not limited to construction.  Apprenticeship targets have been missed then removed across the economy as employers are being stifled by educational policy that just isn’t fit for purpose –  the fact Government have trousered £4.3 billion of unclaimed apprenticeship levy is testament to this.

This is compounded in construction by procurement practices that only encourage shortermism and don’t reward vital things like investment in training.  It would be more helpful for MAC to focus on the shortages and needs and Government look inward to encourage reform in education and support for training or as construction picks up the rapant wage rate inflation in wake of cronic shortages will mean construction works and vital investment in the UK will be jeopardised.”

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