No hospitality roles recommended for shortage occupation list

20 March 2023 by
No hospitality roles recommended for shortage occupation list

The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) has not recommended the addition of any hospitality roles to the shortage occupation list, which would make it easier for businesses to recruit from abroad.

The independent advisory said it did not recommend the addition of roles including hotel and accommodation managers and proprietors, restaurant and catering managers and proprietors, chefs, catering or bar managers to the list in an interim report.

In the report, the MAC said it had not received "substantial evidence which proves that shortage cannot be filled with domestic recruitment". "For the few hospitality occupations at skill level RQF 3-5 in-scope, we do not feel that we have sufficiently clear evidence that these specific occupations are in shortage, or, that a lower salary threshold would be sensible," the report said.

The MAC was asked by the Home Secretary last month to deliver an expedited review of occupations in the construction and hospitality sectors within four weeks to coincide with the Budget. The MAC offers independent advice to the Home Office on immigration policy and produces reports on whether certain occupations should or shouldn't be given some special dispensations to make it easier for employers to access migrant labour to fill vacancies.

The recommendations in the report are interim, pending the completion of the full shortage occupation list review, and the MAC said it will consider its recommendations once more as part of the full review. It encouraged the hospitality sector who have submitted evidence as part of the process, to engage with the full review "as a distinct commission".

Although the report said there was "clearer evidence" of a shortage of chefs, it said there appeared to be "little progress in improving terms and conditions" and pay growth "continues to be driven to a large extent by the statutory minimum wage".

It added: "It is unclear how the sector foresees sustainable domestic recruitment and retention for this skilled occupation when wages remain so low. Overall, the MAC is not persuaded that our decision in 2020 to recommend the removal of chefs from the SOL should be reversed."

The report acknowledged the four weeks in which the report was produced was a "far from ideal timescale to provide evidence on this occasion". It encouraged stakeholders to provide "robust, evidence-based submissions" for the full review, setting out the importance of the occupation to the UK economy, evidence that domestic recruitment is insufficient for that occupation, and that a lower salary threshold is needed.

However, the report said the timescale didn't allow for a review of the training requirements of sommeliers, with the sector invited to provide further evidence that sommeliers should be regraded to RQF 3.

"We note that historically sommeliers have been graded in immigration rules at a higher skill level than the overall occupation and so are certainly receptive to this request," the report said.

CGA by NIQ and Fourth's 2023 Business Leaders' Survey found that one in 11 roles (9%) in hospitality were vacant, a drop of two percentage points since the last survey in October 2022. The rate of churn – the proportion of staff leaving a business in the last three months – dipped by three percentage points to 16%.

Hospitality businesses raised their pay by 12% and 11% for new and existing staff respectively in the last 12 months – just ahead of the rate of inflation, but the survey suggested rising wage bills were piling more pressure on some fragile businesses.

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