UKH calls for chefs to be added to immigration list

By Gary Lloyd

- Last updated on GMT

Evidence provided: Kate Nicholls of UKHospitality says changes to the UK’s immigration system are needed
Evidence provided: Kate Nicholls of UKHospitality says changes to the UK’s immigration system are needed

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UKHospitality (UKH) has urged the Government to add chefs to the Shortage Occupation List (SOL), in order to alleviate persistent shortages.

The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) has called for evidence for its Shortage Occupation List in a bid to fill job shortages through migrant workers and UKH responded, stating hospitality has chef shortages ranging from 10% for head chefs up to 21% for production chefs.

UKH also requested hospitality supervisors, which includes housekeepers and receptionists, and sommeliers are reclassified in order for them to be eligible for the skilled visa route. Some 20% of UKH members have vacancies for hospitality supervisors and there are estimated to be up to 600 vacancies for sommeliers.

UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “As we have continued to highlight, we need to have a pragmatic and sensible approach to immigration and that simply isn’t the case now.”

Own talent investment

She continued: “While the sector continues to invest significantly in growing its own talent, there needs to be changes to our immigration system to enable businesses to fill essential skills gaps.

“The Shortage Occupation List is a critical part of that and adding chefs to the list is a simple move that can have enormous benefits.”

“In our evidence submitted to the MAC, we highlighted how a quarter of members told us they would restrict their trading hours if this level of chef vacancies continued. This is likely to be on top of cutbacks many businesses have already been forced to make.”

Reclassification of roles

She continued: “It’s not just chefs. Critical roles like supervisors, executive housekeepers and multi-lingual receptionists are all in high demand from the sector but they are just unable to be filled. A reclassification of these important roles to make them eligible for the skilled visa route would provide a massive boost.

“I’d urge the MAC to recognise the value hospitality can bring to the economy, when it’s operating at full strength, and grant our requests to help alleviate the devastating shortages that continue to plague our sector.”

Earlier this week, the British Beer & Pub Association joined forces with the British Institute of Innkeeping in telling the Government department chefs must be allowed into the UK​ to fill gaps in the jobs market.

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