Hospitality industry raises concerns over new immigration system

Miles Hurley Miles Hurley Uploaded 19 February 2020

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UK: The government of the UK revealed plans yesterday for its new immigration system in the wake of Brexit.

The system, which attributes points to visa seekers based on various qualities, such as income and language skills, has drawn criticism from the hospitality industry.

The primary concern is the system's preference for high earning, STEM and research focused jobs and lack of oversight for hospitality labour. By mandating high earnings, PhD level qualification, or filling a job shortage, hospitality, the UK’s third largest industry, may struggle to maintain its workforce, much of which is currently sourced from Europe.

Julie Grieve, CEO and founder of hotel app Criton said: “These roles wouldn’t be considered ‘highly skilled’, but our colleagues, many of whom are European nationals, want to do this type of work, whilst applications from unemployed people are few and far between.”

UKHospitality CEO Kate Nichols added: “Hospitality is already facing an acute labour shortage, despite investing significantly in skills, training and increasing apprenticeships for the domestic workforce. We are facing record low levels of unemployment, a dip in young people entering the labour market and have the highest vacancy levels of any sector.”

While technology and automation are suggested as plausible fixes for these shortages, leaders suggest that, while important, they cannot solve labour requirements. `

Government analysts have stated that they believe this new system will reinvigorate Britons who are currently not working. Home secretary Priti Patel said “It is about time that businesses started to invest in people in this country- We have over eight million people... that are economically inactive right now.”

The government’s proposed system is partially based on the Australian immigration program, but takes a more unitary approach rather than allowing devolved units to craft point targets to help their individual needs. This is being fought by the UK’s devolved nations, primarily Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Scottish Tourism Association chief executive Mark Crothall said: “Scotland’s situation is unique; we have very fragile areas in our economy, and it is more important than ever that we’re able to attract and retain people, particularly in the Highlands and Islands and other rural areas.

“We need a differentiated system that is responsive to the specific needs of our tourism industry, our demography and our wider economy and sectors.”

Serviced Apartments industry leaders have already spoken about the stress Brexit has placed on their labour supply. Speaking to Serviced Apartment News about longtime residents staying in the country, MRP Group CEO Max Thorne said: “I think it will all depend on the complicated or uncomplicated procedure for people to register, and nobody’s got sights to that yet.”

The new system, which is still open to amendment, will be required to go into effect by the end of the year.

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