Industry left frustrated after hospitality excluded from UK shortage occupation list

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

Industry left frustrated after hospitality excluded from UK shortage occupation list

Related tags Recruitment Hospitality Jobs Staff Government ukhospitality Shortage Occupation List

Industry leaders have criticised the decision not to add hospitality roles to the UK's shortage occupation list, with one trade body describing the situation as 'disappointing'.

A report by the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) did not recommend any hospitality occupations be included on the list, which would make it easier for businesses to recruit from overseas.

It follows reports earlier this month that suggested chefs and restaurant and hotel manager roles were set to be added to the list​.

In its report, the committee said overall employment in hospitality had recovered since a large fall during the pandemic and 'now comfortably' exceeded pre-pandemic levels.

The committee said it did not recommend any of the hospitality occupations for the shortlist - including chefs, restaurant or bar managers - because 'the Government was clear that such a recommendation should be exceptional and based on particularly strong evidence'.

“Perhaps inevitably, given the shortened time frame that stakeholders had to respond to us, we do not consider any of the evidence submitted sufficiently strong to justify a recommendation,” it read.

The decision has been rebuked by industry leaders including trade body UKHospitality, which claims to have provided 'compelling evidence and data' to the MAC consultation to prove that the sector was struggling to get sufficient employees.

Labour market data published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) last month revealed that vacancy rates across hospitality are still 72% higher than they were pre-pandemic​​​.

Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UKHospitality, told City A.M.​ that ongoing labour shortages in the hospitality sector are 'crippling' businesses and forcing them to reduce their hours, costing the industry billions in lost trade.

She said: “With shortages in the sector two-thirds higher than pre-pandemic, it’s clear there aren’t enough active people in the economy to fill all the roles we need, despite the extensive work the sector is doing to recruit domestically, including the economically inactive.”

The shortage occupation list sets out the skilled jobs for which there is a short supply of domestic workers and makes it easier to recruit people from abroad.

It does this primarily by reducing the salary threshold under which foreign workers are able to qualify for a skilled worker visa to come to Britain. While the salary threshold is £25,600 at present, roles on the shortage occupation list can be offered at £20,480 or at a 20% discount, whichever is higher. It also reduces the cost for businesses to sponsor a visa for a foreign worker.

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