Hoteliers in Bristol are baffled that the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) has not recommended any hospitality roles be added to the shortage occupation list.

Inclusion on the list makes it easier for businesses to recruit from abroad and the decision to not add any hospitality roles to the list in the latest review is seen as a bitter blow to businesses which are still struggling to recover from the effects of both Brexit and the pandemic.

For several years, the sector has been hit by serious recruitment difficulties, and there had been strong calls for chefs and hotel, restaurant, bar and catering managers to be added to the shortage occupation list.

But, in MAC’s first major review since 2020, those pleas appear to have fallen on deaf ears.

Raphael Herzog, Chair of Bristol Hoteliers Association, said:

“This decision really makes us wonder if the people who sit on MAC are living on a different planet. The chef shortage is a fact and not only in the UK but all around Europe.

“Post-lockdown, there were regular reports in the media about hotels, pubs and restaurants who were struggling to get their businesses back up and running because they could not recruit the staff they needed.

“The hospitality sector was hit particularly hard during the pandemic, being among the first businesses to be forced to shut down and the last to be allowed to open.

“Add to that the recruitment issues posed by the impact of Brexit, soaring energy prices, and the cost-of-living crisis, which has reduced the money people have to spend in the hospitality sector, and it’s easy to see why we feel so deeply disappointed by the response of the Migration Advisory Committee.

“The BHA completely agrees with the trade body UK Hospitality, whose Chief Executive Kate Nicholls OBE said MAC has shown a ‘total lack of understanding of chef roles.’

“It seems MAC is absolutely clueless about what is currently happening in our sector, and rather than help us get our businesses back up and running again, they seem to be putting more barriers in our way and creating more challenges.

“We’ve been working tirelessly to tackle our staff shortages. Only recently we held a successful ‘Have A Go At Hospitality’ event, and earlier this year we provided some state-of-the-art equipment to the City of Bristol College to help inspire and train the next generation of chefs. There are still over 700 job offers within 15 miles of Bristol for a chef role!

“But it does take time for the results of efforts like this to provide the benefits we all hope for, and while we work hard, MAC had the power to give our businesses a huge helping hand, but has decided to reject our calls for help.

“We feel very let down.”