Skilled migrant rules could lead to UK chef shortage

Hoteliers may struggle to find home-grown labour to replace low-skilled migrant workers when the new immigration system takes hold, HR directors have warned.

By the end of November, Tier 2 of the government’s points-based system will launch covering skilled workers. But hospitality employers are angry that certain jobs, such as those below sous chefs (the third in command in the kitchen), did not make the skilled occupation shortage list.

Dawn Turner, regional HR director at hotel giant Hyatt Regency told Personnel Today: “The one area of concern is over the shortage positions, for example, chefs. They aren’t on the list below sous chef level. This could lead potentially to a gap in the workforce [as UK nationals do not want low-skilled jobs].”

Jan Marshall, director of HR at the Marriott County Hall London, agreed that leaving low-skilled migrant workers like stewards or housekeepers off the list created “difficulties”. However, she said: “People say there are untapped resources in the UK, we’re not using job centres as much as we could.”

Julian Yew, an employment solicitor at law firm Wedlake Bell, which hosted a hotel forum last week, confirmed that many British nationals “did not want to take up low skilled jobs”. But, he added, kitchen managers will need to better develop UK staff so they were “less reliant on foreign labour”.

“Talent management will be the way forward to get round the hurdles of hiring foreign workers,” he said.

A Home Office spokeswoman said: “Tier 2, for skilled workers, will ensure that opportunities for British jobseekers are maintained, by requiring companies to prove they cannot fill the post with a resident worker before recruiting from outside Europe.”

The criteria for migrant chefs to make the shortage list includes that they earn £8.10 or more an hour. A possible solution to keep migrant chefs employed in the UK could be to raise their pay.

Organisations concerned about the new immigration system should ring the UK Border Agency helpline on 08450106677 or visit

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