Chef Shortage Critical

Chef Shortage Critical

16 March 2018

Hospitality Ulster Chief Executive Officer, Colin Neill, comments on Republic of Ireland’s decision to allow the recruitment of suitably qualified chefs from outside the domestic market and the EEA.

"With the current shortfall of chefs in Northern Ireland predicted to reach 2,000 by 2014. The hospitality industry can only once again look on with envy as ROI change their immigration laws to allow restaurants, hotels and bars in the Republic of Ireland to hire suitably qualified chefs from outside either the domestic market or the European Economic Area.

Hiring suitable chefs is a problem for businesses in both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.

However with this new law it means that the hospitality sector in the Republic will be able to fill vacancies more easily and continue to grow. In essence it is another competitive disadvantage for the hospitality sector in Northern Ireland.

Economic research shows that the hospitality sector in NI needs to recruit an extra 2,000 chefs by 2024. This is a huge number and is related to the growth of the sector in NI, which has outperformed the economy as a whole. It is clear we cannot recruit this number of chefs from Northern Ireland alone.

Northern Ireland’s hospitality sector faces unique challenges, especially with Brexit on the horizon.

Hospitality Ulster has long been calling for government to address the skills shortage in NI.

There are a number of basic common sense approaches which need to be adopted including inviting in local skills and training, maintaining the common travel area between ROI and NI, ensuring no changes to the rights of Republic of Ireland citizens to work in NI and mutual recognition of qualifications.

However, as the ROI have recognised, even with all these measures their simply isn’t enough of a labour pool to address the shortfall. Westminster need to recognise we are a unique market and adopt a regional migration strategy for Northern Ireland. One that allows for the local labour shortfall and economic conditions.

The hospitality sector is working for Northern Ireland. It currently contributes more than £1.3 billion to the economy and supports more than 60,000 jobs.

Supporting the sector is to everyone’s benefit."