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Ethnic restaurants face staffing squeeze as politicians get tough on immigration

By Chris Druce , 14-Apr-2010

UK ethnic restaurants face a skills shortage under immigration reform

UK ethnic restaurants face a skills shortage under immigration reform

A skills shortage for UK restaurants reliant on chefs from outside the EU is looming, after Labour promised to ban entry for the group under the points-based immigration scheme.

Gordon Brown revealed his intention to remove the chef occupation from the Tier 2 shortage occupation list by 2012 in a recent debate on immigration.

 

A commitment to reduce the amount of non-EU foreign labour coming into the UK was repeated again in  Labour's election manifesto this week, with chefs and care workers, the largest occupations by number on the shortage list, in the firing line.

 

The decision to remove groups from the shortage list lies ultimately with the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC), which will publish its next report this autumn and has previously stated it is “minded to remove chefs” from the list unless there is evidence the issue is being addressed.

 

Ethnic Chefs Strategy

 

Dan Power, ethnic chef project manager at People 1st, which has been in talks with MAC, said the Prime Minister’s announcement was 'disappointing'.

 

The skills council published its Ethnic Chefs Strategy in April, and from this summer ethnic restaurant modules will be available for the first time as part of qualifications such as the Professional Cookery Diploma.

 

However with the UK’s 13,000-plus ethnic restaurants still heavily reliant on non EU chefs, a two-year timeframe to switch to chefs from the UK and EU would be very tight, warned Power.

 

Political parties get tough on immigration.

 

The Conservatives are taking a tough line on immigration in general and promising to reduce the overall amount of immigration to the UK from its current six-figure annual range to just a few thousand.

 

A Liberal Democrat spokesman told BigHospitality: “As part of introducing a regional PBS, we would review the shortage list in consultation with the Migration Advisory Committee. We have no plans in advance of that to make any changes to the status of chefs. As we pilot the scheme, starting with Scotland, it is very possible that different shortage lists could be drawn up for different regions.”

 

The shortage list is a stop-gap measure to buy businesses reliant on lower-skilled non EU staff, banned under the point-based system, time to recruit domestic and EU workers. 

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