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UK has enough sheep shearers, needs more coders

Immigration wonks eye up job shortages

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Positions in Britain's IT sector are still going to homegrown workers, according to the UK Border Agency, although software developers and graphic designers are needed to produce visual effects and 2D/3D computer animation for film, TV and video games.

The agency has drawn up a new list of occupations (PDF) that have a shortage of Brits to fill available positions. Officials have scratched 40,000 jobs from the previous listing, bringing the new total to 190,000.

The previous list, which was effective from March and stretches to November this year, showed that the UK needed specialist workers, such as sheep shearers and skilled meat boners and trimmers for butchering, as well as – slightly more prosaic – secondary school science teachers and veterinary surgeons.

The agency also noted a shortage in the film, TV and video games sectors, which need more animators, software engineers and R&D software engineers as well as system engineers for special effects.

Positions for which there had been a shortage of workers six months ago – but for which there is now none – include secondary school biology teachers, vets and pharmacists, but the UK is in need of actuaries, welders of high-integrity pipes, environmental scientists and geochemists.

The Independent Migration Advisory Committee is the body that makes the recommendations of which jobs to include on the list, which comes under Tier 2 immigration. This means that employers can get a visa for someone to come to the UK if an open job is on the list, or if no suitable worker applies after the position has been advertised in the UK for four weeks.

"Alongside our limits on overseas workers we are also taking action to provide businesses with the skills they need from the British workforce and reduce their need for migrants," Immigration Minister Damian Green said in a canned statement. "We want the brightest and the best people from outside the EU with the skills we can benefit from in the UK." ®

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