UKHospitality: Immigration system 'not working effectively' for businesses

26 May 2023 by
UKHospitality: Immigration system 'not working effectively' for businesses

The UK's immigration system is "not working effectively for businesses" as restaurants, hotels and pubs continue to struggle with staff shortages, UKHospitality has warned.

Chief executive Kate Nicholls said the government needed to "take stock" of the current labour market and how the industry needed help as recruitment issues were forcing businesses to cut their opening hours.

Net migration to the UK rose to 606,000 in 2022, a 164,000 increase on 2021's total, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The number of work-related arrivals from outside the European Union (EU) nearly doubled from 137,000 to 235,000 in the space of a year, but more EU nationals left the UK last year (202,000) than arrived (151,000).

There were 132,000 job vacancies in the hospitality industry between February and April this year, the ONS said.

UKHospitality is calling on the government to add more hospitality roles, such as chefs, to the shortage occupation list to make it easier for businesses to recruit from abroad.

However, an interim report by the Migration Advisory Committee in March said it had not seen enough evidence hospitality staff shortages could not be filled by UK workers.

Nicholls said: "These [staff] shortages are actively forcing businesses to reduce their opening hours, or even days. This is not good for businesses, the public or the economy.

"While there is enormous investment in skills and training, it's not enough on its own in the short term and it's time we had a sensible and pragmatic discussion about immigration.

"We need to take stock of the current labour market, where we have shortages and what role the immigration system can play in aiding businesses.

"I urge the Government to take a twin-track approach to investing in developing our own skills and making best use of the immigration system to plug vital job roles - both of which can drive economic growth."

Image: Al Clark / Shutterstock

The Caterer Breakfast Briefing Email

Start the working day with The Caterer’s free breakfast briefing email

Sign Up and manage your preferences below

Check mark icon
Thank you

You have successfully signed up for the Caterer Breakfast Briefing Email and will hear from us soon!

Jacobs Media Group is honoured to be the recipient of the 2020 Queen's Award for Enterprise.

The highest official awards for UK businesses since being established by royal warrant in 1965. Read more.


Ad Blocker detected

We have noticed you are using an adblocker and – although we support freedom of choice – we would like to ask you to enable ads on our site. They are an important revenue source which supports free access of our website's content, especially during the COVID-19 crisis.

trade tracker pixel tracking