The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC), a body which offers independent advice to the Home Office on immigration policy, has recommended removing chefs from the shortage occupation list.
The occupations on the list are given some special dispensations to make it easier for employers to access migrant labour to fill vacancies. Chefs have been on the list since its introduction in 2008.
Respondents to the MAC's questionnaire highlighted that the hospitality sector is not considered by many UK workers as an attractive destination, with young people associating chef roles with long anti-social hours and low pay. Respondents had also said that there will always be a need for employers to hire chefs with specialist knowledge in certain cuisines and that these chefs can often only be sourced from overseas.
However, the report said the persistence of chef shortages and the "failure of employers to successfully improve the pipeline of suitably skilled applicants from within the domestic workforce combined with evidence of relatively poor terms and conditions and hostile working environments speaks against keeping chefs on the [list]."
It also said that it seemed likely that in the short term there will be reduced demand for chefs due to Covid-19, as most forecasters currently predict a slow recovery for the hospitality sector.
Chetal Patel, immigration partner at law firm Bates Wells, said: "The hospitality sector has been under enormous strain already due to coronavirus. Having to contend with an even bigger skills shortage is the last thing it needs.
"Traditionally it has been difficult for restaurants and hotels in the UK to recruit skilled chefs, owing to the unsociable hours and relatively low rates of pay offered in comparison to other countries. The growth of the casual dining experience has also added to a labour shortages for chefs."
"Restaurants that specialise in international cuisine may struggle to find chefs within the UK labour market who have the necessary expertise if these proposals are adopted."
The Home Office said in July that chefs will be eligible for the skilled worker immigration route regardless of whether the role is included on the shortage occupation list or not under its new points-based immigration system.
The report did not recommend adding catering and bar managers, hotel and accommodation managers and proprietors, or restaurant and catering establishment managers and proprietors to the list, as little to no evidence was received from stakeholders or its online questionnaire.
Although restaurant and assistant managers were highlighted as an area of concern when it came to recruitment, the MAC did not receive information on any specific barriers there were to hiring domestic workers for these roles, other than the view that UK workers do not see hospitality as an attractive sector to work in.