The Government has been urged to clarify its points-based system for controlled migration to the UK by non-EU citizens after it emerged that the proposed scheme is already causing shortages of skilled chefs.
The points-based system is set to be introduced on a phased basis throughout 2008. Tier one migrants (highly skilled individuals who will fill shortages in the UK labour market) will be the first to be assessed under the scheme in the first quarter of 2008.
But it has emerged that some hospitality operators have already had their applications for non-EU chefs turned down.
Jonathan Dale, head of Work UK, the business immigration advice unit at Andrew M Jackson solicitors, said: "The Government needs to make its policy clear and consider the effects on the industry. From what we're seeing, this policy is already having a detrimental effect on particular businesses. The Government's viewpoint appears to be that chefs can be recruited from within the existing restaurant workforce."
There is also anxiety in the hospitality sector over the proposal for UK businesses to sponsor non-EU workers, according to Dale. Under the terms of the proposal, the employer will act as a guarantor for the worker and will have to notify the Government if they do not turn up for work having entered the UK, or if there is any change in their personal circumstances.
The British Hospitality Association (BHA) - which, along with People 1st, is currently surveying the industry to assess the level of need for non-EU chefs - is in talks with the Home Office's Migration Advisory Committee on the issue.
"There are 400 million people in the EU and you would hope to find sufficient workers for ordinary day-to-day work, but training a sushi chef can take nine years in Japan," said BHA chief executive Bob Cotton. "That is why we're quite anxious to get this survey done."
By Christopher Walton
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