Tier 2 work permit concessions for sheep shearers announced

25 Mar 2011 | Posted by Carl Thomas

The latest changes to the UK visa system have seen sheep shearing removed from the shortage occupation list of jobs covered by Tier 2 work permits.

However, hundreds of skilled shearers are recruited each year, from New Zealand and Australia in particular, in order to help the UK's farming industry.

To protect the farming sector, the National Association of Agricultural Contractors (NAAC) has been working with the government to organise a seasonal temporary scheme that would allow sheep shearers to work in Britain without the need for a Tier 2 work permit.

Jill Hewitt, chief executive of the association, said: "The NAAC has been actively involved in the process and is confident the UK will not suffer from a shortage of shearers this year.

"We are working closely with shearing contractors in the UK, and shearing associations in New Zealand and Australia, to try and ensure the smooth passage of shearers to the UK."

According to NAAC estimates, around 500 shearers enter the country on Tier 2 work permits each year, shearing approximately a quarter of the national flock.

As such, their removal from the shortage occupation list for Tier 2 work permit applications could result in significant difficulties within the sheep farming business.

Indeed, the NAAC noted, "without these shearers we risk serious animal health problems with fly strike, which in the worst cases may result in death [of livestock]".