British workers are set to be trained to fill staff shortages in ethnic restaurants following the introduction of a new points-system for migrant workers from outside the EU.
Prime Minister Gordon Brown said yesterday that the Government has come to a "fair" position on immigration but added that he wanted to help people already in Britain train up to fill the jobs.
Last month, the ethnic restaurant industry expressed fears that it will be hit hard by the new points-system, which favours highly skilled migrants who can fill gaps in the labour market. It urged Government to ease new restrictions on migrant workers for curry restaurants, who used to be largely recruited from Bangladesh.
It is thought the industry employs at least 50,000 people, with the majority of restaurants in the sector being Bangladeshi-owned. The Immigration Advisory Service (IAS) said that 27,500 extra workers were required to keep the UK's 9,000-plus curry restaurants working.
Prime Minister Brown said the Government will make it possible for people living in the UK to be trained to be either chefs or restaurant workers in the industry.
"We are doing far more to train than ever before. We know there are people who, if trained, could make a contribution to the industry," he said.
According to the IAS, restrictions on lower-skilled workers from outside the EU are causing a labour shortage so severe it could cause "irreparable damage" to the curry industry.
By Kerstin Kuhn
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