The jobs that UK businesses are paying South Africans and other foreigners to fill

Following an exodus of workers in the wake of Brexit and a number of job reforms, unemployment in the UK is now at a historic low of 4.3%.

This has lead to shortages to jobs in specific occupations, including IT managers, programmers, chefs, and nurses, according to immigration consultants Breytenbachs.

Registered nurses remain at the top of the UK’s list of occupation shortages, which has lead to recruitment agencies offering to pay for South African jobseekers’ flights, visas, accommodation, and registration fees to ensure that positions are filled, the group said.

“UK Employers are offering top relocation packages and salaries for overseas nurses. Flights, visa, accommodation, and registration fees are amongst some of the benefits. The UK can offer nurses career opportunities that can be both personally and financially rewarding,” it said.

Jobs in demand

Speaking to BusinessTech, JP Breytenbach, director of Breytenbachs said that despite the popularity of nursing, there are no specific “top jobs” on the UK’s Shortage Occupation List (SOL).

The SOL indicates the specific jobs which have been identified by the UK government as being positions for which there are not sufficient workers within the UK at present.

“Given that the UK has a shortage of workers to undertake the positions contained on the SOL, the Home Office has therefore made it somewhat easier for overseas nationals to come to the UK to take up any position that meets the requirements of the SOL,” said Breytenbach.

“From our experience, the SOL positions that we see most interest in from our clients are the chef positions, nurses, and some of the IT/web development based positions that require the applicants to have at least 5 years’ experience in a similar role and demonstrable experience of having led a team (IT specialist managers; IT business analysts, architects and systems designers).”

Breytenbach also indicated that programmers and software development professionals were in-demand, as well as information technology and communications professionals not elsewhere classified on the SOL.

To sponsor a migrant worker under these provisions, the company must meet certain requirements, said Breytenbach.

You can find the full SOL provisions (including the full list of SOL positions within the UK plus some additional positions that are only relevant to Scotland) here.

Relocation packages

Breytenbach indicated that it was entirely at the discretion of the company seeking to hire a migrant worker under the Tier 2 system (immigrants), and some companies will not offer any financial incentive above and beyond the migrant’s standard remuneration package, nor cover relocation costs.

“We assume this is because they see the benefit of offering sponsored work that will provide the migrant with a UK visa for them and their qualifying dependent family members and that provides them with a potential route to Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK / British citizenship as being sufficient incentive,” he said.

“Other companies will cover the full costs of the migrant’s visa applications and associated costs (such as the Immigration Health Surcharge) and will also offer a one-off relocation payment to cover the additional costs of the migrant in question moving to the UK.”

The Tier 2 visa 

“The Tier 2 system and the SOL provisions are indeed in place to allow non-EU workers to come to the UK to undertake employment with the sponsoring company.”

“If the position being offered to the migrant worker does not appear on the SOL then usually the first step of the process would be for the sponsoring company to test the UK’s settled workforce by advertising the position in very specific ways and seeing if it is possible to find a suitable employee from the UK’s settled workforce,” said BreytenBach.

This process is known as the Resident Labour Market Test (RLMT).

There are a couple of other ways that businesses can be exempted from having to meet the RLMT, such as if they are offering a guaranteed salary package of at least £159,600+ per annum for the position.

Where a position appears on the Shortage Occupation List, however, the company is usually exempted from having to undertake the RLMT. From there, companies will start looking to obtain sponsor licences and a certificate of sponsorship, said Breytenbach.

“The main advantage of the Tier 2 (General) visas is that they provide migrant workers with a route to obtaining Indefinite Leave to Remain (and subsequently British citizenship) in the UK, said Breytenbach.

“It also allows the Tier 2 holder to bring their family members (spouse/civil partner/children under 18 and in certain circumstances unmarried partner/dependent family members) who can then also work towards qualifying for ILR / citizenship.”

“Family members who accompany the main visa holder to the UK are also given a fairly high level of freedom to work or study in the UK.”

The major downside of this visa was that the main visa holder has to remain in sponsored employment for at least five years, he said.

Read: Change in immigration laws sees jump in demand for South Africans with tech experience in the UK

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The jobs that UK businesses are paying South Africans and other foreigners to fill