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College welcomes call to add vets to Shortage Occupation List
29 May 2019
We have welcomed a recommendation made by the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC), which provides advice on immigration issues to the Home Office, that veterinary surgeons should be added to the Shortage Occupation List.
The RCVS made a submission to the MAC in conjunction with the British Veterinary Association (BVA) as part of the MAC’s review into the Shortage Occupation List, which began in autumn 2018. Professions on the list are prioritised for visas required to live and work in the UK. Further, employers wishing to hire professionals on the list are not required to complete the Resident Labour Market Test, meaning they would not have to advertise vacancies locally before offering the role to an employee from overseas.
The submission focused on the need for the UK immigration system to recognise that the veterinary workforce is already under capacity and that this problem is likely to be exacerbated after Brexit. This is due to the potential for increased demand for veterinary surgeons in areas such as export certification, and also the likelihood that fewer veterinary surgeons from the European Union will be joining the Register. It also reiterated the importance of veterinary surgeons in areas such as public health, food safety, disease surveillance and control, as well as education, research, clinical practice and animal welfare.
Commenting on the MAC’s response, RCVS President Amanda Boag said: “We are very pleased to see that our submission, made with our colleagues at the BVA, has been welcomed by the Committee and that this recommendation will now be going to the key decision-makers at the Home Office for consideration. While we are still unaware of how the process of the UK leaving the EU will pan out, this is a very important step in ensuring the future security of the profession and mitigating against worsening workforce shortages.
“We would reiterate to the Government that the UK is currently reliant on overseas registrants to meet the demand for veterinary surgeons, with veterinary surgeons from the rest of the EU making up around 50% of new registrants each year. By adding veterinary surgeons to the Shortage Occupation List, and therefore reducing the immigration requirements needed to live and work in the UK, the Government will be helping ensure vital veterinary work continues to be done particularly in areas such as food safety and public health.”
The RCVS will also be continuing to work with the BVA, the Department for the Environment, Food & Rural Affairs and the veterinary schools to look at how the number of ‘home-grown’ veterinary surgeons can be increased through expanding the UK veterinary education sector, increasing retention rates within the profession, and looking at how the veterinary team could be reformed to allow allied professionals, such as veterinary nurses, to utilise their full range of skills and knowledge by taking on extra tasks and freeing up veterinary time.
The RCVS also made a separate submission to the MAC asking for the veterinary nursing profession to be added to the Shortage Occupation List. The submission recognises that VNs are a crucial part of the vet-led team and that therefore it should be made easier for employers to recruit overseas VNs. This would help to address VN workforce shortages and facilitate appropriate delegation by veterinary surgeons enabling veterinary surgeon time to be focussed on tasks that are restricted to them.
In the veterinary nurse submission the RCVS also recommended that veterinary employers be exempt from the Immigration Skills Charge, in order to avoid any additional barriers or burdens to veterinary nursing employment, and that there be no minimum earning cap for veterinary nurses applying for working visas. Veterinary nurses are skilled professionals who may choose to work in the UK for reasons other than remuneration. Further, VN salaries are often considerably lower than the existing and proposed wage cap. The report confirms that the MAC will not be recommending to the Home Office that VNs are added to the Shortage Occupation List. The RCVS will continue to look at ways in which it can help the supply of veterinary nurses meet current demand for their services in the veterinary sphere.
To view the joint submission in full please visit www.rcvs.org.uk/brexit where you will also be able to find some of the supporting documents included in the submission.