UK government gives fishing special job designation to help attract foreign workers

A pair of fishermen in Scotland.

The U.K. government’s decision to add fishing jobs to the country’s official Shortage Occupation List (SOL) signified that many commercial operations in the seafood industry have struggled to plug gaps in the workforce and attract new talent.

Inclusion on the SOL, which came after a recommendation from the U.K. Migration Advisory Committee, means U.K. fishing companies will pay lower fees and face lower salary requirements in recruiting foreign workers.

The move adds to an existing package of governmental support that to aid non-national workers navigate the visa and sponsor application process, as well as the broader immigration system, and expediting visa and sponsor applications to quicken decision-making at no extra charge.

The designation also makes the program part of the ongoing GBP 100 million (USD 124.2 million, EUR 115.9 million) U.K. Seafood Fund, which is aimed at helping modernize facilities, training and upskilling fishermen, and investing in better scientific research on fish stocks.

According to U.K. public body Seafish, the SOL designation will reduce the cost burden for both employers (businesses looking to recruit non-U.K. crew) and prospective employees (overseas workers applying for a visa).

“This change should hopefully make it easier for employers to recruit workers from overseas via the skilled worker visa route,” a Seafish representative told SeafoodSource.

However, it remains difficult to find suitably skilled crew who are able to satisfy English language requirements, particularly written English, the representative said.

“Industry organizations are exploring how to deliver appropriate English language training in overseas jurisdictions, but there is still much work to be done,” the spokesperson said.

The new support measures, however, only address one challenge in what is a very complex situation facing the U.K. seafood supply chain. 

The Scottish Seafood Association (SSA), the trade body representing Scotland’s processing and trading sectors, among other groups, said it would like to see the implementation of broader pro-industry actions, particularly projects that seek to overcome on-the-ground issues and can provide the means to capitalize on subsequent opportunities.

SSA CEO Jimmy Buchan said he feels the U.K. government has been “disingenuous” in that it has ... 

Photo courtesy of PJ photography/Shutterstock

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