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Care workers should go on shortage occupation list, migration experts say

Care worker jobs should immediately be made eligible for the Health and Care Visa and placed on the Shortage Occupation List, migration experts have said today in a new report.

Placing care workers on the Shortage Occupation List (SOL) will allow employers to sponsor care workers subject to a minimum salary of £20,480 per year – equivalent to £10.10 per hour for a full-time worker.

In the 2021 annual report the Migration Advisory Committee believes this move will alleviate recruitment difficulties, at least in the short term.

Its report points to a significant worsening in the ability of firms to recruit and retain care workers due to Brexit and the “substantial public benefit that the care sector provides, over and above the economic benefit”.  

The report also calls on government to consider additional ways of making the immigration system more accessible for adult social care SMEs. This could include using the Workforce Recruitment and Retention Fund to reduce the financial cost of recruitment through the immigration system.   

A recent survey of Care England’s members showed that most members (96%) reported that a workforce shortage was their primary concern this winter. Skills for Care estimated a care worker vacancy rate of 11.2 per cent in October 2021. Burnout from the increased workloads that occurred during the pandemic and the vaccine mandate are likely to increase the gap between supply and demand for care workers.

The report notes that the share of non-UK born care workers in the workforce has increased over time, rising to 24 per cent in 2020. With over 50 per cent of EEA care workers stating that they came to the UK for employment, the ending of free movement and the absence of a work route for care workers is likely to contribute to the recruitment problems faced by the sector, says MAC. In London non-EEA care workers account for 55 per cent of the workforce, although this figure drops to 8 per cent in Wales.    

The report also notes that the number of applications for senior care workers has risen over the course of the year to around 400-500 per month in recent months. The current ‘going rate’ for this occupation is £18,039, a year, according to MAC.


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