UKHospitality: ‘chef vacancies need urgent action’

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

UKHospitality reiterates calls for chefs to be added to the UK’s shortage occupation list

Related tags Recruitment Hospitality Jobs Staff ukhospitality Chef Shortage Occupation List

UKHospitality has reiterated calls for chefs to be added to the UK’s shortage occupation list, which would make it easier for businesses to recruit them from overseas.

Responding to the Migration Advisory Committee’s (MAC) call for evidence, the trade body noted that around 10% of head chef roles remain vacant, rising to 21% for production chefs.

“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,” says Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UKHospitality.

“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 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.

“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,” Nicholls continues.

“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.”

The trade body has also requested that hospitality supervisors, which includes housekeepers and receptionists, and sommeliers be reclassified in order for them to be eligible for the skilled visa route.

According to UKHospitality, 20% of its members have vacancies for hospitality supervisors and there are estimated to be up to 600 vacancies for sommeliers.

“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.”

Back in March there had been suggestions that chefs and restaurant and hotel manager roles were set to be added to the list​​​, but it never came to pass​​​.

Related topics Business & Legislation Chef

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