By Craig Allen, co-founder of hospitality recruitment agency, The Change Group.
Paul Scully is presuming that by exiting the EU, Britain will then open its borders to immigrants from outside the EU, which is not a guarantee. He is also not taking into consideration the chef talent that we are already losing to other countries (such as Australia and Hong Kong) where chefs earn better money, work less hours and live in a nicer climate. There is no guarantee that chefs from outside the EU will want to immigrate to the UK and anyway, employers could have to meet strict new criteria should they wish to employ foreign staff. EU nationals currently employed in the UK could possibly be protected for as long as they continue to work, however there is less certainty about how EU workers’ wanting to come into the country would be affected.
“Nick Clegg recently stated in The Guardian that there are 3,000,000 British jobs that depend on the UK being a part of the EU. The fact remains that Britain does not currently have the talent pool to sustain these jobs if migrants are not available to contribute to the recruitment landscape especially in the hospitality industry here in London. In an ideal world we would be encouraging and training up young British school leavers to be chefs, but the chef shortage is affecting us now and exiting the EU will just have a further detrimental effect and lose a large proportion of EU talent. Clearly it is our hope that more young British people will get into the hospitality industry – but this is not a given.
“Within the hospitality industry, we have seen restaurants struggling to fill both front and back of house positions due to a lack of talent, which is worrying when you consider how many of these people come from countries in the EU. Just last year we conducted a survey which showed that nearly 60% of the candidates we register at Change are from outside Britain of which 48% come from countries within the EU. Losing or not attracting a large part of the hospitality workforce could have a detrimental effect on the industry, not to mention the economy.
“Over the past 10 years the hospitality industry in Britain has made incredible headway to solidify its position as a culinary capital of the world, however this is very much reliant on restaurant investors and chefs bringing new ideas into the country and diners sustaining this growth. An exit from the EU could affect investment into the industry and the talent supply, and there could also be a reduction in wealthy residents (especially if banks relocate from London as they are threatening). Tourism could also be affected due to visa restrictions making it increasingly difficult for people to travel.