The British Hospitality Association (BHA) has questioned the government's commitment to encouraging British people to consider a career in hospitality after plans to introduce new technical qualifications were delayed.
Chief executive Ufi Ibrahim has written to the immigration minister Brandon Lewis and the education minister Anne Milton to express concerns that the new Catering and Hospitality T-Level will not be introduced until September 2022, a year after the anticipated end of freedom of movement.
She pointed out that the delay was likely to cost jobs and growth, and urged the ministers to "reconsider this oversight".
In her letter to Immigration minister Brandon Lewis, Ibrahim said: "We are not in a position to fill these vacancies without hiring non-UK workers. This is due to the fact that the UK is currently at near full employment and because the educational system does not encourage young people to consider a career in hospitality.
"It was my hope that the new Catering and Hospitality T-Level would address the latter point and so I was dismayed to find out that these qualifications have been delayed until the second round, with the first teaching of the Catering and Hospitality T-Level starting in September 2022, a year and a half after the anticipated end of freedom of movement. I would hope that your ministerial colleague (in Education) Anne Milton can be persuaded to reconsider this oversight."
She added that if migratory flows for workers from the EU and beyond were severely curtailed, the hospitality industry would likely contract, costing jobs and growth. According to a KPMG report commissioned by the BHA, the industry needs an additional 60,000 workers a year to power growth in addition to the 200,000 workers needed to replace churn. It said that a key part of its 10-year-strategy for job creation was to attract people direct from education.
Speaking today Ibrahim said: "I am sure it is possible for these two departments to talk to each other and sort this out so that our industry is not being asked to find more UK workers with one hand tied behind our back. We have shown with our 10-year-strategy we are willing to step up to the plate but we need government encouragement."