Industry has to respond to Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) call for representations for additions to shortage occupation list
When the government announced ambitious new offshore wind targets for 2030, there was much optimism within the industry. But when the dust settled skills shortages became a clear obstacle to meeting those targets, which is why the industry must appeal to the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) to ease its concerns.
Having seen the talent in the energy industry shrink as many retired, or moved closer to retirement in recent years, companies will have considered a number of options. Upskilling, transferring skills and immigration will have been chief among them.
The final of those three options was made significantly harder when the UK left the EU.
For companies building and maintaining offshore installations, free movement allowed specialist teams to transfer around the EU relatively easily. This meant the sometimes seasonal nature of work in renewables didn’t pose a problem. With a flexible pool of workers that moved across borders work could be secured all year round.
On the other side of Brexit, non-UK workers within these cross-border teams could need Skilled Worker visas to serve UK-based wind farms. For roles which qualified as Skilled Workers, there was an additional administrative and cost burden for employers.
The issue arises when there is a need for roles that are not classified as ‘skilled’. Although those roles may not be regarded as “skilled” by the immigration authorities, they remain vital to the completion of work and the meeting of targets.
This is why the industry must to respond to a call from the MAC to make representations for these roles to be placed on its shortage occupation list.
Now is an ideal opportunity for making the case to help the industry meet the offshore wind targets set.
Being on the shortage occupation list lowers the cost of obtaining a visa and the salary threshold required, but the real win is to have those roles identified as potentially ‘skilled’ roles, qualifying for a Skilled Worker Visa.
If the industry can react to this call for recommendations from the MAC, that may lead to one further way of addressing the skills shortage.
By getting those roles onto the shortage occupation list, it doesn’t just make the process easier it makes the talent pool wider expanding it from Great Britain to the globe. And it will make the exciting 2030 target for the UK less of an ambition and more of a reality.
Euan Smith is a partner in Eversheds Sutherland’s Employment, Labor and Pensions group. He qualified in 1997 and has been specialising in employment law for over 20 years.