Labour chef immigration pledge criticised by employers

The industry body representing hospitality employers has criticised Gordon Brown’s pledge to stop non-EU chefs coming to work in the UK.

In last week’s historic TV debate, the prime minister vowed that a future Labour government would prevent workers such as chefs from non-EU countries being allowed to work here, in favour of training local people.

“We’ve got to tighten the number of skills we need in this country,” he said. “That’s why we’re moving from care assistants to chefs right through other occupations where we train up British people to do the skills.”

Bob Cotton, chief executive of the British Hospitality Association, said that Brown was “jumping the gun”, arguing that the industry still needs to bring in skilled Japanese, Thai, Indian and Indonesian chefs to meet demand.

“British colleges may be able to train chefs specialising in Asian cookery up to a certain level, but there will still be a need to bring in executive chefs,” he told Personnel Today’s sister title Caterer and Hotelkeeper.

At present, chefs and care assistants are on the Tier 2 shortage occupation list, but Brown has signalled Labour’s intention to remove them by 2012.

The decision to remove groups from the shortage list ultimately lies with the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC), which will publish its next report this autumn. MAC has previously stated it is “minded to remove chefs” from the list unless there is evidence the issue is being addressed.

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