It’s a fact that the 1.3 million job vacancies currently open in the UK have compounded the effect of skills shortages in the past year. Add to this the 450,000 employees that have quit paid employment since 2019 and 200,000 EU workers that have left the UK due to Brexit, and the outlook for the recruitment crisis remains bleak.
But with job vacancies still rising and many workers still to be tempted back into the workplace from the comfort of remote or hybrid working, there are three potential solutions HR could explore to help ease some of the most critical shortages this year. The newest of these solutions for employers is the High Potential Individual (HPI) Visa.
The HPI visa is open to people of any nationality over 18 years of age with a degree from these elite universities within the last five years – and without sponsorship fees
1. The High Potential Individual (HPI) Visa
The new HPI option which went live at the end of May this year is ideal for employers suffering from acute skills shortages such as IT, science and engineering. It now allows employers to recruit top talent from the best 50 universities worldwide outside of the UK under the scheme including Harvard University in the US, Peking University in China and the University of Tokyo in Japan, as well as those closer to the UK, such as Paris Sciences et Lettres in France.
The HPI visa is open to people of any nationality over 18 years of age with a degree from these elite universities within the last five years – and without sponsorship fees. So even if just a small proportion of graduates choose this visa to work overseas from the nearly 5.3m graduates worldwide enrolled across these 50 universities from 2017-21, it could help UK employers.
This visa will allow those who have obtained a degree from approved institutions in the last five years to apply and come to the UK to work freely for two or three years depending on their qualification. While this category does not lead to settlement directly and an applicant will need to switch status to a category such as Skilled Worker if they wanted to stay long term in the UK, it does offer graduates and employers alike a useful new option right at the start of their career.
2. The Graduate Immigration Route
A more mainstream option and available since July last year is the Graduate Immigration Route. This enables international students to remain in the UK for two years after they have completed their studies or three years for Doctoral students. Because this is an unsponsored route it also means applicants will not need an initial job offer to qualify and there is no minimum salary requirement, nor caps on numbers.
The new Youth Mobility Scheme Visa is another useful option for employers and could also work for more entry-level vacancies
This route is available to international students who want to work, or look for work following the successful completion of a degree at undergraduate level or above at a Higher Education Provider with a track record of compliance.
While this route will not lead to immediate settlement it does offer graduates the opportunity to gain valuable work experience in the UK after their studies and offers employers qualified new talent for graduate-level jobs. Further study is also permitted, except for study that already meets the approved qualification.
For employers and graduates hoping to continue their working relationship, at the end of the two or three-year period the visa holder will be able to switch into ‘skilled work’ if a job meets the requirements of the Skilled Worker route.
3. Youth Mobility Scheme Visa
The new Youth Mobility Scheme Visa is another useful option for employers and could also work for more entry-level vacancies as it applies to most jobs including sectors such as hospitality, retail and care work. The only exemptions are working as a professional sportsperson.
Replacing the Youth Mobility Scheme visa (T5), this visa is available to overseas talent aged 18-30 who want to live and work in the UK for up to 24 months from a range of countries including Australia; Canada; Monaco; New Zealand; San Marino and Iceland. While for some other countries the worker must be selected in the Youth Mobility Scheme ballot before they can apply for their visa if they are from Hong Kong; Japan; South Korea and Taiwan.
Workers on the Youth Mobility Scheme visa can enter the UK at any time their visa is valid, and leave and come back at any time during their stay
In addition, The Australia-United Kingdom Free Trade Agreement (A-UKFTA) provides expanded pathways for young Australians to live and work in the UK, and vice versa, taking effect within the next five years. So within two years, Australian Working Holiday Visa makers will have expanded rights and will be able to stay in the UK for up to three years with an increased cut-off age of 35.
Workers on the Youth Mobility Scheme visa can enter the UK at any time their visa is valid – and leave and come back at any time during their stay, for example, during holidays. Applicants for this visa require a £259 application fee, must have £2,530 in savings and as with all the schemes, also pay the healthcare surcharge, which for Youth Mobility Workers is levied at a lower rate of £470 per year. Visa holders on this scheme are also allowed to study, although for some courses they will need an Academic Technology Approval Scheme certificate.
Exploring one, or perhaps all three of these routes according to the type of your vacancies could offer your employer some valuable new ways to help ease acute recruitment requirements this year while offering young overseas talent the opportunity to gain some valuable and career-building experience in the UK jobs market.
Interested in this topic? Read How HR can solve the skills shortage.