Skills Shortages, Visa Changes, and what does it all mean for you? - Your Talent Solutions
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Skills Shortages, Visa Changes, and what does it all mean for you?

You may have seen in the news that changes have been made to the skilled worker visa eligibility criteria and they arrived on the 4th of April 2024, so as of now, these are the new rules we need to follow, and the changes are not small.  


We’re going to examine why the skilled worker visa is necessary for many businesses navigating the skills shortages, look at the changes and how they might impact you, and look at why the skilled visa route is still one many employers will want to consider. 


Skills Shortages 


We’ve all heard of the skills shortages, but to put some of this into context, some statistics are shared below to highlight the situation many businesses find themselves in. The skilled worker visa isn’t the only solution to these challenges, but it is certainly one potential route to alleviate some of the staffing problems industries face. There are many more things businesses should be doing to help but there’s not enough room in this blog to discuss them. 


  • According to a report by the UK Commission for Employment and Skills over one-third of UK employers reported difficulty in filling vacancies due to skills shortages. 
  • Engineering and technology seemed to be the most heavily impacted with a survey by Engineering UK showing that we needed to fill 186,000 roles a year to keep pace 
  • Healthcare is facing significant shortages, especially in nursing and GP roles, in 2020 there were over 44,000 nursing vacancies 
  • Social care is struggling to keep pace with an ageing population with over 120,000 vacancies in 2020 
  • A report by TechNation showed that we needed an extra 1.2 million tech workers to keep pace with demand 
  • The Construction Industry Training Board warned that we needed over 200,000 workers to meet demand based on projections going into 2025 
  • The hospitality industry has long struggled with skills shortages, particularly in kitchen roles and management, but across the sector. In 2020 UKHospitality reported that 80% of businesses struggled to hire chefs 


What are the changes to the rules? 


Skilled visa 


The headline change is that skilled workers will now require a minimum salary of £38,700 to be eligible for the visa, up from £26,200 which is nearly a gobsmacking 50% rise. The spouse visa will also rise to £29,000. 



Healthcare and New Entrants 


Healthcare workers will have a lower threshold but will still see an increase from £26,200 to £29,000. “New Entrants” will be able to earn 30% less too if they qualify. What is a new entrant? 


Shortage occupation List 


The shortage occupation list is being replaced by the Immigration Salary List (ISL) that will give the home office greater control over occupations with a lower salary requirement. Those occupations in the ISL will have a 20% discount compared to the general threshold. 


Existing workers 


For those of you with existing skilled workers in employment, you won’t have to meet the full salary change when it comes to visa renewal but there are changes. The threshold for these visa extensions will be £29,000, up from £26,200. 


Health Surcharge 


We are also going to see a significant increase in costs for the health surcharge, this will now cost £1,035 per year, up from £624. 




For those starting their studies from 2024, you will only be eligible to bring a partner or children if you are studying for a PhD or other doctorate. 


There are no current plans to remove the 2-year post study work visa entitlement for all international graduates, but this scheme is under review. 



What does this mean? 


Well, this is a tricky one to analyse as whilst some things have been made harder it is important to recognise that helping to fill hard-to-fill roles is still very possible with the skilled worker visa. The way in which the visa system is setup makes it clear to understand who is eligible and what roles within your business would benefit from widening your candidate pool to look at highly skilled international candidates. 


New challenges are certainly there and some roles that would otherwise be eligible are now no longer falling within a lower salary threshold level. That said, those occupations that have a skills shortage are still eligible for a lower salary threshold if the median salary is below the levels set. 


We have always advocated for clients of ours to look at the skilled worker visa as a way of filling any skills gaps within their organisation. If your industry is meeting challenges with finding the right candidate, then widening your candidate pool makes sense and gaining a sponsor licence isn’t as daunting as you might think. Whilst the salary threshold has increased, in most cases the required salary will be in line with the median salary for that industry, or below if you are looking at highly skilled workers. 


Whilst we wouldn’t say that the skilled worker route is a silver bullet for staffing shortages, it remains an opportunity to bring in skilled talent from overseas who can contribute to businesses across the UK and used alongside other methods can form part of an effective overall strategy that can set you apart from your competition. 


If you have any questions regarding how looking at skilled workers can positively impact your business then please contact me on or 07790958426, we can also make some suggestions of experts who can support you on the legal side of that journey. 


Additionally, if you want to discuss what a wider strategy might look like, then we’re here for that too. 

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