The UK government is considering establishing a short-term visa programme that would help bring foreign workers into the country without affecting population rates and tackling labour shortages in the hospitality sector.
According to reports by The Times, the Home Office has initiated negotiations with some EU countries for more youth mobility schemes while keeping net migration figures stable after the UK recorded an all-time high migration rate last year.
More specifically, the proposals would enable young people between 18 and 30 to work in the UK for up to two years without requiring sponsorship from an employer while also being exempted from the skill and salary requirements that apply under the current Skilled Worker route. This means that employers could use the scheme to fill elementary positions within their business.
The decision, if approved, would help the UK hospitality industry, which was severely affected by Brexit, the pandemic, and the not-so-great economy of recent years. The hospitality sector was one of the favoured sectors for workers from the EU, but new immigration rules after Brexit have impacted the people’s desire to fill specific vacancies such as waiters, baristas, and housekeepers.
The number of job vacancies in this sector has decreased over the last year, although the sector continues to struggle with staff shortages. UKHospitality trade body estimates that vacancies in the sector are around 48 per cent higher than pre-pandemic levels.
“Anything that can help us with the recruitment of the staff we need to get our businesses fully up and running again is welcome and will make such a difference. We would also like the visa scheme to go beyond the EU, extend to the likes of India, and extend the roles it would apply to where we are currently experiencing shortages,” Raphael Herzog, Chair of the Bristol Hoteliers Association (BHA), said.
He also noted that the current proposals would cover positions such as baristas and waiters, but extending them to cover chefs, therapists, room attendants, and others would also be welcomed.
Currently, the Skilled Worker route enables licensed sponsors to recruit workers in the hospitality sector in a limited number of eligible roles, such as hotel and accommodation managers and proprietors (1221), restaurant and catering managers and proprietors (1,223), publicans and managers of licensed premises (1,224), chefs (5,434) and catering and bar managers (5,436).
On the other hand, UK workers in other countries like Switzerland hold some of the most managerial positions in the country, with 44.3 per cent of workers of this nationality holding a higher qualified position.