The Chinese Immigration Concern Committee (CICC) has warned Parliament that there is a "real danger of meltdown" in the ethnic catering industry after the introduction of a points-based system for skilled workers.
Speaking to a Home Affairs committee inquiry yesterday Jabez Lam, co-ordinator of CICC, which is part of the Ethnic Catering Alliance, said the points-based system had reduced the supply of labour to the Chinese catering industry.
Lam told MPs on the committee: "The success of the British Chinese catering industry is largely, if not entirely, built on the continuous supply of migrant labour."
He added that the introduction of the points-based system for migrant labour in February had thrown British Chinese catering into "a crisis of acute labour shortage".
Lam said that the absence of formal qualifications to measure skills in Chinese catering had made it impossible to secure the necessary staff from overseas.
CICC recommended to the Home Office that the points-based system be changed to recognise the skills of chefs who had worked for at least seven years.
It also urged the Government to work with the Chinese catering community to invest in training and education to ensure a healthy supply of staff.
The Government began a name and shame policy in May for businesses caught employing illegal workers. Of the 35 businesses found guilty of employing illegal workers in May 67% were ethnic food caterers.
By Christopher Walton
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