The scheme suggested by Lord Green has been suggested in case the country’s departure from the EU severs young workers’ freedom of movement between the UK and mainland Europe.
The proposal is based on a “Youth Mobility Scheme” for travellers from Australia, New Zealand and Canada, and follows a warning from the British Hospitality Association (BHA) that the shortage of British workers in restaurants is so severe that many could close without a steady stream of migrant workers.
Using the so-called ‘barista visa’, European citizens’ time in Britain will reportedly be stringently limited to two years, and they would not be able to claim welfare benefits or free housing under the proposed scheme.
Explaining his plan, Lord Green told national newspaper The Sun: “We can kill two birds with one stone here.
“We can meet the needs of pubs and restaurants and maintain our links with young Europeans by allowing them to come for a strictly limited period of two years to work.”
The crossbench peer and former Foreign Office ambassador added: “They could work at any level but would not become long term immigrants who would add to the pressure on public services.
BHA said that ministers should allow low skilled jobs to be taken on by EU migrants after the UK leaves the bloc.
Explaining why, the association said that just one in 50 job applicants for café chain Pret a Manger are British, and that chains will need ten years to replace EU staff after Brexit.
Ufi Ibrahim, Chief Executive of the British Hospitality Association, said:
“The BHA has already told the government that the Hospitality and Tourism industry needs to have access to an EU workforce for years after Brexit. We’ve indicated that this reliance should decline each year as more UK workers are recruited, but with UK unemployment so low we will need to recruit EU nationals. We have been encouraged by recent announcements recognising the industry’s needs and look forward to working with the government to reach a sustainable solution.”
A Home Office spokesman said: “Leaving the European Union allows Britain to take control of our immigration system.
“We are working across Government to identify and develop options to shape our future system to ensure the best possible outcome for the British people.
“It is logical to consult on proposals to make sure businesses, services and communities can contribute their views.
“However, as we are currently considering the various options as to how EU migration might work once we have left, it would be wrong to set out further positions at this stage