The creative industries welcome MAC Shortage Occupation List recommendations

June 12, 2019

The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) has responded to its review of the UK's Shortage Occupation List (SOL), which has been welcomed by a number of trade bodies across the creative industries. MAC's report highlights the importance of the creative industries to the UK economy and recognises the need for certain skills to secure its growth. As such, a number of roles within our sector have been included on the SOL.

The Shortage Occupation List (SOL) is used by the Home Office to help organisations recruit workers that are in shortage through non-EEA immigration. If a role is placed on the List, organisations are exempt from the national cap on the number of permanent (Tier 2) visas, and do not need to look to fill the role first with UK/EEA workers through the Resident Labour Market Test (RLMT).

The Federation submitted a response to the review, drawing attention to the importance of cultivating talent at home and attracting skilled workers from abroad. The Creative Careers Programme was acknowledged as a key industry-led initiative, and our concern regarding the current failings of the UK's education system in providing all young people with access to creative subjects was noted.

On attracting skilled workers from abroad, we urged the MAC to review in detail the proposals submitted by trade bodies and sub-sector groups from across the creative industries. Some of these organisations have publicly responded to the review, including ScreenSkills, Ukie, TIGA and RIBA.

As a result of this collective effort, the following Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) codes have been opened up or added to the SOL:

  • Architects (SOC code 2431)

  • Artists (SOC code 3411)

  • Arts officers, producers and directors (SOC code 3416)

  • Graphic Designers (SOC code 3421)

We urge the government to adopt MAC’s recommendations.

There is still a case, however, for more roles to be included, particularly as the creative industries prepare for a post-Brexit immigration system. Tutti (rank and file) musicians and technicians in the screen and performing arts sectors, are amongst these roles, in addition to other positions that fall into lower Regulated Qualifications Framework (RQF) levels.

With the proposed end to the RLMT and the Tier 2 visa cap, the MAC has recommended that the purpose of the SOL is reviewed, with the possibility that it is removed altogether. However, the Federation has argued that these measures alone will not supply the international talent that our sector needs. The SOL should remain to provide greater support to employers seeking skilled workers in shortage, such as ensuring such roles are exempt from the salary threshold.


The salary threshold and immigration skills charge sits outside of this review, but the MAC has indicated that a future report will give this area more focus. We have argued that salary is far too blunt an instrument for judging the skills and talent we need, and will continue to advocate this point to the MAC and government. Our position on the Tier 2 route and salary threshold can be found here.


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