The shortage occupations list is a list of jobs which are given preferential treatment by the UK in respect of the immigration status of applicants into the UK labour market. The Home Secretary commissioned a review of this list which made recommendations specific to the care home sector in respect of the inclusion of care home and home care registered managers and senior care workers in the shortage occupations list. The Home Secretary has responded to the report by stating that it would not immediately act on the recommendations, leaving open the possibility of reversing this decision in the future.
Interestingly the Migration Advisory Committee, the body that produced the report suggested in their recommendations that the data should not be reviewed substantively more than once per year. Critically the Committee also note that the data is relatively constant in respect of those sectors which meet the threshold to be on the list of occupations for which the UK has a shortage.
The care sector may view this failure to acknowledge care staff, even at their most senior level, as another example of the Government failing to understand the needs of the sector. There were calls for all care workers to be included in the list but they do not meet the threshold required by virtue of the definition of the skilled worker (A-level and in receipt of a salary above £25,600). The Government will clearly be looking to encourage the domestic market to fill in the gaps that may be left by reduced migration caused in part by Covid-19 and in part by Brexit. It remains to be seen if the domestic labour market will fill those jobs en masse in the shorter term and beyond. A solution would be to pay all in the sector a higher wage which will encourage more applicants; in order to do that there needs to be a settlement on the costs of care being increased with the Government and local authority and unfortunately this still appears to be a distant prospect.