Hoteliers across the UK have expressed their approval of reports suggesting that the government is considering new short-term visa schemes for young workers from certain EU countries.
This move aims to address the staffing shortages in the hospitality sector. The industry has faced challenges due to the combined effects of Brexit and the Covid-19 lockdowns, making it difficult for many businesses to return to pre-pandemic staffing levels.
Trade body UKHospitality highlighted that job vacancies in the sector are currently 48% higher than pre-Covid levels.
According to sources, the Home Office is discussing the possibility of allowing young workers, such as waiters, baristas, and au pairs aged between 18 and 30, to work in the UK for up to two years without the need for sponsorship or meeting salary thresholds.
This potential agreement might also be reciprocal, enabling British youth to work in other countries with ease. The UK has similar youth mobility visa schemes with countries outside the EU, like Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Japan, and Iceland.
The government is reportedly considering extending these schemes to European countries to bolster the economy without significantly increasing net migration.
Raphael Herzog, a representative from the hospitality sector, stated that such initiatives would greatly assist in recruiting the necessary staff to fully operationalise businesses once more. He also expressed hope that the visa scheme would be expanded to other countries, such as India, and cover roles that are currently facing shortages, including chefs, therapists, and room attendants.
In related news, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak recently announced potential increases in visa application fees and the immigration health surcharge. Some industry experts have expressed concerns that these changes might discourage individuals from pursuing long-term careers in the UK's hospitality sector.
The government has yet to officially comment on the proposed short-term visa schemes.