Hospitality Ulster CEO Voices Frustration At Migration Report
18 September 2018
Commenting on the report, Colin Neill, CEO of Hospitality Ulster said:
“With a predicted 30,000 job vacancies predicted by 2024 in the Northern Ireland Hospitality and Tourism industry, the recommendations in the latest report issued today by the Migration Advisory Committee make stark reading"
"While we note that the report makes reference to reducing some controls for medium skilled workers, we would argue that this should include chefs and managers in the hospitality industry.
In its report, the committee states that it is "not convinced there needs to be a work route for low-skilled workers" from the EU to fill jobs in industries such as catering or hospitality”
This statement completely fails to recognise the value of people with ‘soft skills’ which will not only damage our potential growth, but may actually impact the survival of many small hospitality businesses as they struggle to recruit staff locally.
The hospitality sector in Northern Ireland continues to develop its employment credentials and working conditions, but the sheer size of the industry means that our pool of labour needs to be supplemented by overseas nationals.
In Northern Ireland currently one in five of the workforce in the hospitality sector in NI is accounted for by foreign workers and they are an essential part of our industry.
By 2024, just six years from now, we will need an additional 2,000 chefs and in total the sector will have over 30,000 job vacancies to fill over the same period.
It is clear that these vacancies can’t be filled from within Northern Ireland and retaining access to skilled labour from overseas is vital.
The hospitality sector is now a key driver of the NI economy and it has the ability to grow further, but that won’t be the case if we can’t fill the vacancies that arise as a result of that growth.
Having access to an experienced workforce, many of whom have extensive language skills to work in customer facing roles, is absolutely essential.
Our immigration policy needs to be based on our economic needs, while meeting our legal obligations and treating people fairly.
We will continue to call on the UK Government to widen its definition of skills. An experienced barperson who can speak multiple languages is a skilled worker and has a valuable role to play in the NI economy.
Having control of your own borders must mean doing what is in the interests of the wider economy and not pursuing self-defeating policies which damage our economic potential.
That means that government must set policies which encourage and facilitate people to come here to work which are to the benefit of the economy and our whole society"