Net migration to Britain reached a record high of 606,000 last year, data has revealed, bringing renewed pledges from Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to reduce arrivals, but underscoring the difficulty of doing so at a time of acute labour shortages.
The increase was driven by people from outside the European Union coming to Britain to work or study and by people arriving from Ukraine and Hong Kong under special visa schemes, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.
Responding to the publication of legal migration figures today, UKHospitality Chief Executive Kate Nicholls said:
“If there is one thing evident from today’s figures, it’s that the immigration system is not working effectively for businesses.
“Unfortunately, despite the numbers published today, there remain significant shortages across hospitality with 132,000 vacancies, 48% above pre-pandemic levels. These shortages are actively forcing businesses to reduce their opening hours, or even days. This is not good for businesses, the public or the economy.
“While there is enormous investment in skills and training, it’s not enough on its own in the short term and it’s time we had a sensible and pragmatic discussion about immigration.
“We need to take stock of the current labour market, where we have shortages and what role the immigration system can play in aiding businesses.
“For example, adding chefs to the Shortage Occupation List would be a practical measure to plug a gaping hole for businesses and provide a huge boost to the sector.
“I urge the Government to take a twin-track approach to investing in developing our own skills and making best use of the immigration system to plug vital job roles – both of which can drive economic growth.”