An immigration expert has urged hospitality businesses to register to employ overseas workers or potentially face a post-Brexit shortage of workers.
The industry was facing a staff shortage pre-pandemic and could yet again struggle to fill positions when the market begins to recover, with big changes to the UK's immigration policy just weeks away at the end of the Brexit transition process.
Home Office data shows just 31,946 businesses are registered to sponsor applicants on Tier 2 visas, the main immigration route for working in the UK. With House of Commons business statistics showing that there are 1.4 million private sector employers in the UK, this means only 2% are in a position to employ new arrivals from next year.
Yash Dubal, director of London-based A Y & J Solicitors, warns there is no time to lose to prepare for the new regulations.
He said: "The hospitality industry has suffered considerably under the Covid-19 restrictions. Hopefully, next year will see shoots of recovery as things get back to normal, but that will also require businesses being able to recruit from abroad to meet an increased demand. Hospitality has always relied heavily on recruitment from overseas; the shortage of skilled chefs in particular shows that unless this demand for professionals can be met, it will hold British businesses back from economic growth at a time when they will most need it."
He added: "It's shocking to me that so few businesses seem aware of these rules. My advice would be to make preparations now to make sure the UK's hospitality sector can thrive."
UK employers wishing to hire skilled migrants must be registered on the government visa sponsor scheme when the new immigration rules come into effect. Currently the scheme only applies to workers from outside Europe. but after 1 January 2021, all overseas workers will require a visa under the new points-based immigration system.