Migrant worker rules loosened as part of package to fill skills gap

Bricklayers and plasterers are among five occupations being added to a list of roles which will benefit from relaxed visa rules in a bid to plug gaps in the workforce with overseas labour.

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt said the government has accepted the recommendations of the independent Migration Advisory Committee’s interim review of the construction sector published today.

It means that five categories of occupations will be added to the shortage occupation list (SOL); bricklayer and masons; roofers, tilers and slaters; carpenters and joiners; plasterers and construction and building trades n.e.c (a category of worker that undertakes a variety of tasks in the construction and repair of buildings). The change is due to take place before the summer.


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A shortage of bricklayers means it is one of five occupations added to a list of roles overseas workers will be allowed to fill

The Treasury’s Budget document said: “To help ease immediate labour supply pressures, the government commissioned the MAC to undertake a rapid SOL assessment for the construction and hospitality sectors, ahead of its full review of the SOL concluding later in 2023.

“The government has accepted the MAC’s interim recommendations, to initially add five construction occupations to the SOL.”

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It added the SOL will be reviewed more regularly “so that the legal migration system is quicker and more responsive to the needs of businesses and the economy”.

But steel erectors, scaffolders and road construction operatives have not been recommended to be added to the SOL.

The measure was one of several announced today aimed at increasing the labour supply, along with proposals to help the long term sick and disabled back into work. These include scaled-up musculoskeletal interventions and mental health services and an overhaul of health and disability benefits.