The UK Home Office is being urged to create a ‘coronavirus recovery visa’ for Britain’s hospitality sector, according to a report published by iNews. However, the Home Office is calling on employers to focus on training the domestic workforce. The call from leaders in the hospitality sector comes amid major staffing shortfalls across pubs and restaurants.
Since pubs reopened in April and May, many hospitality sector employees have returned to Europe and beyond because of the coronavirus pandemic. Many of those who have left decided not to return, while others have found it more difficult to come back to the UK because Brexit has made coming to work in Britain more complicated.
Prior to the pandemic, data showed that 24% of all workers in the UK hospitality sector were from overseas. The percentage was closer to 60% in London.
Plug the gaps
The CEO of UKHospitality, Kate Nicholls, claimed that if the UK mirrored a new policy introduced in Australia, it would help to ‘plug the gaps’.
Nicholls told iNews: “A coronavirus recovery visa is one of the things shared with ministers over the last few days – it makes sense. Australia first developed it. Over there it replaces the working holiday visa. Simply put, it allows people to come over for two years to take on entry level positions. It fills jobs quickly.”
“A lot of venues do not have enough staff and we think a visa scheme is worth looking into. Hospitality is a critical sector for our economic recovery but it is suffering from labour shortages,” she added.
Meanwhile, others in the hospitality industry have called on the government to ‘intervene quickly’ as pubs and restaurants struggle to hire enough staff to meet demand.
One restaurateur, who asked to remain anonymous, told iNews that they were ‘three chefs down’ having reopened in early May, so welcomed the idea of a ‘coronavirus recovery visa’ to boost staffing levels.
The restaurateur said: “A lack of chefs is our biggest issue by far – we really need people back.”
A spokesperson for the Home Office declined to comment on a potential ‘coronavirus recovery visa’, but did say: “Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the government has implemented an unprecedented package of measures to support workers and businesses right across the UK, as well as new reforms to ensure businesses have access to talent from across the world so that we can Build Back Better from the pandemic and support the national economic recovery.”
“We want employers to focus on training and investing in our domestic workforce, especially those needing to find new employment as a result of the impact of the measures necessary to tackle COVID-19, rather than relying on labour from abroad. At the same time, we are making it simpler for employers to attract the best and brightest from around the world to come to the UK to complement the skills we already have,” the spokesperson added.
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