Ease tier 2 immigration rules to combat chef shortage, says recruiter

Craig Allen, the director of hospitality recruitment company The Change Group, said a shortage of chefs in the UK could be eased temporarily by relaxing the country's tier 2 immigration rules. Mr Allen said: "Britain's immigration laws are preventing a 'freer movement of chef talent' around the globe." It should be easier for employers with a Tier 2 sponsorship licence to obtain Tier 2 visas.

According to research conducted by The Change Group, just one-third of applicants applying for leading chef vacancies in London are from the UK. Numbers fall to one-fifth for applications for 'chef de partie' [station chef] vacancies.

EU and non-EU workers

Currently, foreign workers from European Union member states account for over half of applications received for skilled chef jobs in London. However, just 14 per cent of applications are received from non-EU workers, which Mr Allen attributes to Britain's tight, tier 2 immigration rules.

Mr Allen said: "There's a perception that the hospitality sector is wide open to migrant workers. However, our research concludes otherwise. Taking data from our database of 1,200 chefs looking for employment, it would appear that a change in Britain's tier 2 visa rules is needed to help fill job roles until a home-grown solution can be found."

"There's a shortage of British talent applying for a career as a chef and there's not enough skilled immigrants from within the EU to fill the void. Britain needs to attract skilled migrants from beyond the realms of the EU to meet demand. For this to happen, tier 2 immigration policies must change," Mr Allen added.

He went on to say that less restrictive tier 2 immigration rules for skilled immigrants would encourage a 'freer movement of chef talent, which would aid the growth of the UK's hospitality sector.' Mr Allen also believes that this would have a positive effect on income from UK tourism, which is vital to the country's economy.

Current immigration rules concerning chefs outside of the EU

Current tier 2 immigration rules dictate that a non-EU chef must be taking up a role paying £29,750 a year before being allowed to work in the UK. However, with the average salary of a head chef in the UK being just £24,745 per year [source: payscale.com], chef and senior vice president of the Bangladeshi Caterers Association, Oli Khan, said: "It's almost impossible to get non-EU chefs into Britain because of the salary requirements."

Mr Khan said: "The only way to address the current shortage of chefs is to reduce the restrictions placed on the tier 2 immigration route. This will buy the hospitality sector some time to tackle the recruitment demands faced, while focusing on the bigger issue of how to attract more UK-based workers into chef careers."

Long-term, both Allen and Khan agree that boosting the number of UK workers looking for a career as a chef is the way forward. For now, they say that London is in need of a short-term solution because restaurants in the capital are struggling to recruit chefs across all levels. Mr Kahn said: "Demand is simply outweighing supply."

Chef shortage critical

According to People 1st ( a research and policy group) and chef, Daniel Clifford, the chef shortage has reached crisis point in 2015, with 42 percent of chef vacancies now considered 'hard to fill.' People 1st and Clifford say that that the hospitality industry 'faces demise' if nothing is done to tackle the shortage of chefs.

Workpermit.com can help with Tier 2 Visa Sponsorship Licences

If you need help with a Tier 2 sponsorship licence or would like help with complying with your Tier 2 sponsorship licence obligations workpermit.com can help. Call 0344 991 9222 for further details.