Updates on the Shortage Occupation List and Apprenticeships

The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) published the report of their most recent review of the Shortage Occupation List (SOL . The report can be found here. In summary, and simplistically, the MAC has recommended that manufacturing roles including leather working trades should not be included in the SOL.

The report is hefty and while I would encourage you to read the context, please see pages 542-544 and 550 for the rationale for the MAC’s recommendations and what further information MAC would like to see.

The decision by MAC will greatly limit the sector’s ability to bring in workers from overseas, particularly for ‘shop floor’ roles. Exclusion from the SOL means that the sector is not eligible for exemptions from the new skilled worker route of entry, where we are already hampered by an average salary that is far below the new policy threshold.

One issue that has been highlighted was the lack of responses to the consultation, meaning that the MAC had insufficient evidence for any decision other than exclusion from the SOL. There will be a further review conducted by the MAC, which is likely to be after 1 January 2021 and I encourage you to respond individually as and when that becomes available.


  • To help businesses offer new apprenticeships, Government will provide a new payment of £2,000 to employers for each new apprentice they hire aged under 25, and £1,500 for each new apprentice aged 25 and over (1 Aug–31 Jan).
  • Employers can take advantage of existing flexibilities to train their apprentices in a way that suits their needs; they can choose how to spend the payments to support their apprentices e.g. supporting travel costs or contributing to wages.
  •  Government has committed to improve the working of the Apprenticeship Levy. Government will also work with large employers to improve the transfer process, making it easier for them to find smaller employers to transfer levy funds to, thus helping them maximise the amount of funding they will be able to transfer.
  • The new payment is in addition to the financial support Government already provides to help employers meet the needs of some groups of apprentices in the workplace, e.g. the £1,000 payment for employers hiring apprentices aged 16-18 years-old, or those aged 19-24 who have an Education, Health and Care plan.
  • For more information on apprenticeships, please visit this site. The webpage also contains links to information on apprenticeships in the Devolved Administrations.

Best regards

Dr Kerry Senior
Director, Leather UK

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