UKHospitality has expressed its dissatisfaction with the choice not to include chef positions on the UK's Shortage Occupation List.
The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) recently released a report that did not advocate for the inclusion of roles within the hospitality sector, including chefs, restaurant managers and bar managers, in the list. This omission, despite fervent appeals from the sector, could potentially hinder businesses in their efforts to hire talent from abroad more easily.
Nevertheless, the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) did propose the inclusion of sommeliers with three or more years of full-time experience on the list. This decision followed their acceptance of a request to reclassify the sommelier role, differentiating it from other front-of-house positions.
The MAC, in its final assessment, explained its choice not to recommend adding chefs to the list, despite the evidence of a shortage in this profession. They argued that they saw limited progress within the sector in terms of improving chefs' terms and conditions and enhancing the development of domestic talent.
In response, UKHospitality contested the MAC's assertions, emphasising that the refusal to expand the Shortage Occupation List to encompass more roles within the hospitality industry hampers the sector's ability to attain its full potential.
Kate Nicholls commented:
“We would strongly refute the Committee’s reasoning behind not recommending chefs to be included on the Shortage Occupation List, which demonstrates a lack of understanding and outdated perception of chef roles in hospitality.
It has ignored the many changes to working practices, including increased pay, better working hours and increased development opportunities since 2020.
There is a significant amount of work taking place to recruit and train chefs, but the committee needs to recognise that these initiatives take time to bear fruit.
The pandemic significantly exacerbated chef shortages by wiping out two years-worth of newly trained chefs and this should have been taken into account.
The Shortage Occupation List is specifically designed to bridge gaps and caused by a shortage, which is why we’d asked for a temporary addition.
The Committee’s refusal to add more hospitality roles to the Shortage Occupation List is holding the sector back from reaching its full potential of creating even more jobs and driving economic growth.”
In other aspects of its recommendations, the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) also suggested an extension of the Youth Mobility Scheme (YMS) to include additional nations.
This scheme facilitates the entry of young individuals aged 18-30 from participating countries or territories, permitting them to reside in the UK for a period of up to two years for work or educational purposes without the requirement of sponsorship.
“Expanding the Youth Mobility Scheme has been a long-standing ask to help the sector recruit and I’m pleased the Migration Advisory Committee continue to make this recommendation.
It’s imperative that the Government implements this recommendation from its own advisory body, in order to help hospitality businesses recruit. This is particularly important in light of the Committee’s refusal to add chefs to the Shortage Occupation List.”
The Shortage Occupation List identifies skilled occupations that are currently facing a shortage of domestic workers, simplifying the process of hiring foreign individuals.
This is chiefly achieved by lowering the salary threshold for foreign workers to be eligible for a skilled worker visa in the UK. Currently set at £25,600, roles featured on the shortage occupation list can be offered at £20,480 or at a 20% discount, whichever figure is higher. This adjustment also reduces the expenses incurred by businesses when sponsoring a visa for foreign employees.