The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) has added six job categories related to horseracing and breeding to the UK government’s Shortage Occupation List (SOL), which is overseen by the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC).
The independent Committee, tasked with advising the government on the migration of skilled workers, has been alerted by the BHA and stakeholders to a “shortfall of around 2,000 employees”. UK racing is currently facing significant recruitment challenges post-Brexit.
On the advice of the National Trainers Federation (NTF) and The Thoroughbred Breeders Association (TBA), the BHA has submitted vacancies in the job categories of “racing groom, stallion handler, stud groom, stud hand, stud handler, and work rider.”
The BHA received a positive response from MAC, which recommended that all six categories be added to the SOL, recognising the high skills required for these roles.
Currently, UK racing is experiencing a significant labour shortage, despite increased pay in yards and studs to make the roles more attractive. Alarmingly, the authority noted “vacancies at racing yards and studs have grown by more than double the UK average between 2016/17 and 2022/23, highlighting the difficulties faced by the industry.”
BHA CEO, Julie Harrington, remarked, “While we continue to develop career paths and opportunities for individuals seeking to enter racing and breeding, it remains the case that these industries still need to recruit highly skilled workers from overseas to address significant workforce gaps.
“Adding these roles to the SOL will, if approved by the government, allow us to continue recruiting top international talent and give us the much-needed capacity to train and develop our local talent.”
Post-Brexit, the UK has introduced a ‘Skilled Worker Visa’ scheme to its migration policy. Applicants must guarantee a minimum salary of £26,200 per year (£10.75 per hour) to be eligible for employment.
MAC has been assigned the responsibility of reviewing current labour shortfalls across UK business sectors, focusing on “occupations where the going rate is below the general salary threshold of £26,200”.
The SOL review has been initiated as key business sectors claim they cannot recruit effectively for vacancies, primarily because many job roles do not meet the Skilled Worker Visa’s salary threshold.
Claire Sheppard, CEO of the TBA, commented, “These roles are crucial for studs to maintain world-leading health and welfare standards and produce racehorses that excel on the global stage. This supports employment in the rural economy and solidifies the racing industry’s £4.1bn annual economic impact.”