The new T-level qualification, the name that has been given to the new technical certification in catering and hospitality, will be delayed until 2022 – 18 months after free movement is expected to end after Brexit.
The BHA hoped the courses, which were announced in March, would help plug the skills gaps in the pub and restaurant sector by training 16 to 19-year-olds to work in the trade from 2019.
The trade body's chief executive Ufi Ibrahim has written separate letters to the immigration minister and the education minister, which outline her ‘dismay’ at the decision and urged them to reconsider this ‘oversight’ because she fears the delay will cost jobs and growth.
She highlighted that the BHA has already laid out a 10-year strategy to encourage more British workers into the hospitality industry that, according to a report commissioned by the BHA, will need an additional 60,000 workers per year to push growth in addition to the 200,000 workers needed to replace staff turnover each year.
A key objective to this strategy is attracting people straight from education, according to Ibrahim. Her letter to immigration minister Brandon Lewis said: “We are not in a position to fill these vacancies without hiring non-UK workers.
“This is due to the fact that the UK is currently at near full employment and because the educational system does not encourage young people to consider a career in hospitality.
“It was my hope that the new catering and hospitality T-level would address the latter point and so I was dismayed to find out these qualifications have been delayed until the second round, with the first teaching of the catering and hospitality T-level starting in September 2022, a year and a half after the anticipated end of freedom of movement."
Reconsider the oversight
She added: “I would hope that your ministerial colleague (in education) Anne Milton can be persuaded to reconsider this oversight."
“If migratory flows for workers from the EU and beyond are severely curtailed, particularly non-highly skilled routes, the hospitality industry will be forced to contract, costing jobs and economic growth. Automation is not a viable alternative in our sector.”
She also said last week (6 October): “I am sure it is possible for these two departments to talk to each other and sort this out so that our industry is not being asked to find more UK workers with one hand tied behind our back.
“We have shown with our 10-year strategy we are willing to step up to the plate but we need Government encouragement.”