Trade bodies react to Government report on immigration after Brexit

By Stuart Stone contact

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Employee problem: a full Migration Advisory Committee report will be published in September 2018
Employee problem: a full Migration Advisory Committee report will be published in September 2018
The British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) and UKHospitality (UKH) have issued responses to an interim Migration Advisory Committee report that found that immigration restrictions would “very likely” slow growth after Brexit.

Published on 27 March, EEA workers in the UK labour market: interim update, ​is based on evidence received from more than 400 businesses and industry bodies.

It flags that restricting migration after Brexit would likely stifle the UK economically stating that “lower migration would very likely lead to lower growth in total employment, and lower output growth.”

A full report is due to be published in September 2018.

Not purely a low-pay sector

BBPA chief executive Brigid Simmonds said: “The Migration Advisory Committee’s interim report highlights the importance of migrant workers in the hospitality sector.

“A survey of BBPA members showed that brewing and pubs employ 17% of their workforce from overseas, but this rises to 40% in metropolitan areas and in some specialist areas such as kitchen staff, up to 80%. The interim report acknowledges that low unemployment does make it harder for businesses to recruit and retain workers and, without doubt, that is true for pubs in particular. 

“We acknowledge that many in entry-level positions in our sector are paid the national living wage, but we do not see ourselves purely as a low-pay sector. We employ huge numbers of young people – 46% of employees in pubs are under the age of 25.

"We are working hard as a sector to ensure that working in hospitality is seen as a career and continue to work with the Government to support proposals for a Tourism Sector Industrial Strategy, which has a clear focus on skills. 

“We are clear that any future immigration system must support the necessary levels of staffing in our sector. It has been good to see the Republic of Ireland changing its migration rules around the employment of chefs. There is a shortage of chefs here too and the experience required, rather than specific qualifications requirements does not fit well under 'tier 2' of the current migration system.

“As the leading voice for brewing and pubs, we will continue to work closely with the Home Office on a post-Brexit migration system that best serves our sector and have made clear that the tier system needs reform.

"Additionally, we would like to see the Youth Mobility Scheme, which gives the freedom for young people to live and work in the UK for up to two years, extended to EU nationals.”

Need to mirror the European perception of hospitality careers

UKH chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “The interim report acknowledges the importance of migration to the UK economy and the importance of migration to the UK’s hospitality sector.

“We are particularly pleased that the Migration Advisory Committee’s report recognised that the 'vast majority of employers do not deliberately seek to fill vacancies with migrant workers’', but that, in some cases, these are the only available candidates.

“Most encouragingly, the report identifies the need for vocational reform and education within the UK to help support a vibrant and dynamic hospitality sector that, nonetheless, sometimes struggles to attract employees from within the UK.

“The Migration Advisory Committee’s report highlights the perception of hospitality in other European countries as a first-choice career and the need for action in the UK to adopt the same approach. Hospitality offers a wide range of exciting career options and we need to be proactive in getting that message across to young workers looking to build a rewarding career.

“This change will need to come partly through support from the Government in the shape of a sector deal that provides hospitality businesses with an opportunity to grow and offer more.

"UKHospitality is committed to working closely with the Government on this important reform – supporting vocational education, apprenticeships and T Levels – to help promote the sector and secure the future of its workforce following withdrawal from the EU.”

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