The UK is currently experiencing a shortage of skilled workers. Here’s why you should look to employ workers from abroad to fill those positions.


Following Brexit, the UK is experiencing a severe shortage of skilled employees, due to the dwindling pool of readily available EU workers. There are currently openings in the majority of economic sectors, including 42,000 in construction, 60,000 in transportation, 170,000 in food and lodging, and 200,000 in care.

The new immigration system has made it somewhat easier for UK businesses to fill positions with qualified professionals from outside of the country.

The UK skills shortage list

The UK shortage occupation list is a comprehensive list of jobs that the UK government has identified as being underrepresented in the local labour market. The requirements for applicants seeking sponsored work visas are more lenient if their jobs are on the list. For instance, a job offer for an occupation on the shortage list counts for 20 tradeable points under the points-based immigration system.

The list of skills shortages has significantly expanded as a result of the pandemic and Brexit instability. Many technical jobs, such as electricians, plumbers, and IT user support technicians, for example, would previously not have qualified for the old Tier 2 (General) visa. But they do so now under the Skilled Worker visa.

There are also many more office positions that qualify for the Skilled Worker visa, including sales executives and office managers. The list also includes teaching assistants, gardeners, chefs, shopkeepers, ticket inspectors, estate brokers, and shopkeepers.

How to employ overseas skilled workers

The UK government has very strict regulations when it comes to hiring employees from overseas, including those from the EU and EEA. Firstly, you will need to obtain a sponsor licence if the company does not already have one in place. 

A sponsor licence is a broad authorisation from the UK Home Office that enables UK-based businesses to provide Certificates of Sponsorship (CoS) to workers who need them for their Skilled Worker visa applications.

Obtaining a sponsor licence can be challenging, so it’s worth using a professional service provider to ensure that all of your paperwork is in order and completed on time.

We can help you with getting a sponsorship licence for your business.

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Skilled Worker visa

If you want to employ someone from overseas, aside from the company requiring a sponsorship licence, the individual will also need to qualify for a Skilled Worker visa. With this visa, they can stay and work in the UK for up to five years before having to renew it or, if they have completed five years in the UK on a Skilled Worker visa, apply for indefinite leave to remain

Candidates must gain 70 points under the UK's points-based immigration system in order to be eligible for the Skilled Worker visa.

The mandatory requirements are:

  • A job offer by an approved sponsor (20 points)
  • The job is at an appropriate skill level (20 points)
  • They can communicate in English at the required level (10 points)
  • They can make up the remaining 20 points by earning a salary at the “going rate” for their occupation, having a job on the shortage list, or by holding a PhD in a subject relevant to their job or in a STEM subject.

Health and Care Worker visa

Healthcare workers may be eligible to apply for the Health and Care Worker visa. This route is the same as the Skilled Worker visa, with lower education requirements, lower application fees and holders do not need to pay the annual health surcharge of £624 per year per person.

This route also requires a job offer from an approved sponsor and has the same mandatory requirements as the Skilled Worker visa.

The Home Office has also expanded the shortage occupation list to include more occupations that fall under the healthcare and education category, including:

  • Health services and public health managers and directors
  • Residential, day and domiciliary care managers and proprietors
  • Pharmacists
  • Health professionals not elsewhere classified
  • Physiotherapists
  • Laboratory technicians
  • Nursing auxiliaries
  • Senior care workers

How Sable International can help

We provide immigration help, guidance and assistance to both skilled workers who have job offers and UK companies wishing to hire foreign workers.

We can assist your company with the practical management of your compliance responsibilities throughout your licence period as well as with the process of applying for a sponsorship licence. Additionally, we can help you acquire Skilled Worker visas for the workers you have sponsored.

We help individuals and businesses navigate all aspects of UK immigration and can assist with ongoing employee immigration management. Contact us at +44 (0) 20 7759 5307 or email

We are a professional services company that specialises in cross-border financial and immigration advice and solutions.

Our teams in the UK, South Africa and Australia can ensure that when you decide to move overseas, invest offshore or expand your business internationally, you'll do so with the backing of experienced local experts.