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UK Government Considers Short-Term Visa Program to Address Labour Shortages

The UK government is reportedly exploring the possibility of implementing a short-term visa program aimed at addressing labour shortages in the hospitality sector and welcoming foreign workers without significantly affecting population rates. This initiative comes in response to challenges faced by the industry due to Brexit, the pandemic, and economic fluctuations in recent years.

UK Government Considers Short-Term Visa Program to Address Labour Shortages

According to sources, the Home Office has entered negotiations with certain EU countries to establish more youth mobility schemes. The primary objective is to maintain stable net migration figures while allowing young individuals aged 18 to 30 to work in the UK for up to two years without requiring employer sponsorship. Additionally, these workers would be exempt from the skill and salary requirements under the current Skilled Worker route, enabling employers to fill essential roles within their businesses.

The UK hospitality sector has been particularly hard-hit by a confluence of factors, including changes brought about by Brexit, the ongoing pandemic, and economic uncertainties. Historically, the industry relied on workers from the EU to fill positions like waiters, baristas, and housekeepers. However, post-Brexit immigration rules have impacted the availability of these workers.

Job vacancies in the hospitality sector have risen significantly over the past year, even as the industry grapples with staffing shortages. UKHospitality, a prominent trade body, estimates that job vacancies in the sector are nearly 48% higher than levels before the pandemic.

Raphael Herzog, Chair of the Bristol Hoteliers Association (BHA), welcomed the proposed visa scheme, noting its potential to aid in the revival of businesses severely affected by the pandemic. Herzog expressed hope that the program could extend beyond the EU, encompassing countries like India, and cover a broader range of roles beyond waiters and baristas. He emphasized the need to include positions such as chefs, therapists, room attendants, and others.

As of now, the Skilled Worker route enables licensed sponsors to hire workers for select roles within the hospitality sector, including hotel and accommodation managers, restaurant and catering managers, chefs, and catering and bar managers.

The potential implementation of the short-term visa program highlights the UK government's efforts to strike a balance between addressing industry-specific labour shortages and maintaining control over immigration and population growth.



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