The hospitality industry will reap benefits of the latest review by the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) of the Shortage Occupation List (SOL), published on 3 October.

While the future of the SOL is now in doubt with the MAC saying it is no longer fit for purpose questioning whether it should continue to exist in its current form and instead directing attention to alternative routes for meeting shortages, it provides a new route for sommeliers as the hospitality industry looks to fill approximately 700 vacancies.

Although the MAC did not recommend sommelier inclusion on the SOL, it did recommend that the occupation be reclassified to RQF 3+ and thereby an occupation now eligible for entry under the Skilled Worker route.

Charlotte Wills, a Partner at Fragomen, the world’s leading provider of immigration services, and adviser to the hospitality sector comments.

“The hospitality industry will welcome the ability of sommeliers to enter under the Skilled Worker route making it easier, to an extent, for businesses in the sector to recruit overseas talent to fill the sommelier vacancies.

“Sommeliers had previously not been considered for the UK’s skilled visa route and while the MAC has suggested a restriction on those will less than three years’ experience, the inclusion now recognises the skilled nature of the job. It now provides a pathway to utilise the skilled worker route for a role recognised to be in shortage.

“Hospitality businesses will also welcome the MAC’s recommendation to expand the Youth Mobility Scheme route to include more countries and potentially our European neighbours. The MAC recognise that a more fluid labour market would be particularly beneficial to the sector.

“However, there will be disappointment that the SOL has not been expanded as so many business groups had called for, with many industry sectors facing a critical shortage of staff following post-Brexit restrictions on the movement of EU workers.

“We do not yet know how the Government will respond to the MAC’s recommendations, although historically it tends to accept them. It is now clear, however, that it is crucial to strategically plan to ensure the continuing advantages of the UK immigration system are fully used when building out immigration programmes to ensure they are effective and efficient in the development of talent pipelines.”