To ask Her Majesty's Government which sectors and roles were identified in the most recent Employers’ Skills Survey as being hard to fill; what assessment they have made of the extent to which those gaps could be filled by those coming to the UK from Hong Kong under (1) the British National (Overseas) visa, and (2) any other schemes; and what plans they have (a) to identify, and (b) to recruit, suitably qualified people from Hong Kong for such roles.
17 March 2021
On 31 January, the UK launched the new Hong Kong British National (Overseas) (BN(O)) route for those with BN(O) status and their eligible family members to come to the UK to live, study and work in virtually any capacity, on a pathway to citizenship.
There is no cap on numbers on the BN(O) route, nor are there any requirements for BN(O) status holders to have a job offer in order to apply. As such, those on the BN(O) route will be able to work in virtually any capacity (with the exception of working as a professional sportsperson or sports coach) whilst in the UK, including in the sectors and occupations highlighted in the most recent Employer Skills Survey.
The Employer Skills Survey collects data on how many vacancies are proving hard to fill due to a lack of applicants with the right skills, experience, or qualifications – these are called skill-shortage vacancies (SSVs). The most recent survey conducted in 2019 found that 24% of all vacancies were SSVs. By sector, the rates of SSVs were highest in the Construction and Manufacturing industries, with both sectors reporting that 36% of their vacancies were SSVs. By occupation group, the Skilled Trades had the highest rates of SSVs (48% of vacancies were classed as SSVs). The three specific occupations with the highest rates of SSVs were Carpenters and Joiners, Welding trades, and Metal machining setters.
These findings from the Employer Skills Survey can be found at the following link: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/936489/ESS_2019_Skills_Needs_Report_Nov20.pdf.
Departments across Government are working together closely to ensure that necessary support and guidance is provided for BN(O) status holders who take advantage of the new visa route.
We want the UK to be the first choice for the highly skilled both from Hong Kong and around the world. This can be seen in the focus on high skilled migration in the Budget, including plans to modernise the immigration system and make it easier to use, as well as new routes for high skilled talent. We also want to ensure the UK is seen as open and welcoming to talent by those who are thinking of moving. At this stage we are considering those coming to the UK from Hong Kong as part of the wider picture of high skilled migration.