Hospitality employers must invests in the skills of UK workers to ensure they don't become over-reliant on migrants, Skills Minister David Lammy has warned.
Speaking to Caterer at the WorldSkills competition in Japan last weekend, Lammy said the only way UK employees could vie for jobs was by making certain they had the skills that hospitality employers needed.
"Migrants are making an important contribution to the economy," he said. "It should not be a situation of whether the industry employs them or not, but it's important that we invest in young British people to ensure that they can compete alongside migrants."
Lammy recognised that many hospitality operators were addressing the issue by signing up to the Government's skills pledge, under which employers promise to ensure all staff gain basic skills and a full Level 2 qualification by 2010.
The hospitality industry, he said, would also benefit enormously from the funding - £450m this year and £900m by 2010-11 - being put into the Learning and Skills Council's Train to Gain initiative.
"I get a real sense that the hospitality sector is up for increasing its training and skill levels and conveying to the public the huge contribution it can make to the British economy," Lammy said.
A 22-strong British team, including three competitors representing hospitality skills, was competing against 47 other countries at WorldSkills.
By Janet Harmer