Britain seeks math teachers and ballet dancers

LONDON (Reuters Life!) - Britain needs more math teachers, hovercraft officers and ballet dancers, according to a draft list of occupations with a shortage of workers published by a government advisory body on Tuesday.

Ballet dancers stand on pointe for one minute during a record breaking attempt in Trafalgar Square in London July 6, 2008. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor

The full list includes chefs, sheep shearers and jockeys, although all must be “skilled”, as well as specialist civil engineers, medical consultants and veterinary surgeons.

It forms part of a new points-based immigration system designed to cut the number of workers coming to Britain from outside the 30-nation European Economic Area (the European Union plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway).

The new rules come into force at the end of November and will make it harder to employ skilled workers from outside the EEA in trades not on the shortage list.

Employers wanting to hire staff in unlisted occupations will have to show they cannot recruit similar staff locally.

All workers coming to Britain will also have to demonstrate they can speak English and have enough money -- set at 800 pounds -- to support themselves before their first pay check.

The list was drawn up by the Migration Advisory Committee for the government to consider before the publication of a final list.

Home Office (interior) Minister Tony McNulty said the committee had done a good job and told Sky News he expected the government would probably issue a “remarkably similar” list in five or six weeks’ time.

Bangladeshi caterers running popular “Indian” restaurants in Britain welcomed the inclusion of skilled chefs on the shortage list.

“We are celebrating,” said Nur-Ur Rahman Khondaker, secretary general of the Bangladesh Caterers Association, which had lobbied for ethnic catering jobs to be classified as a shortage occupation.

His organisation says Bangladeshi restaurants and takeaways in Britain already have 30,000 vacancies and had feared ethnic restaurants being permanently barred from hiring staff from their home nations.

But care home owners said many would not be able to offer the level of salary required for overseas staff to avoid the new immigration restrictions.

“It is so far above what the medium pay levels are within care homes for senior care workers, it is just not going to be achievable,” Mandy Thorn, a board member of the National Care Association, told the BBC.

The Australian-style points system is being introduced to meet concerns about levels of immigration, and the impact on local services, by ensuring that only needed workers from outside the EEA were allowed into Britain.

Editing by Peter Griffiths and Paul Casciato