Steven Freudmann, chair of the Institute of Travel & Tourism, assesses the impact a potential post-Brexit salary threshold for international workers would have on the sector.
In 2011, in response to the challenge from Ukip, David Cameron’s government pledged to reduce net migration to less than 100,000 UK arrivals a year.
Today, net migration is running at more than 250,000.
The government has since published its white paper on post-Brexit immigration, removing the numerical target for net immigration and instead proposing all workers (including those from the EU) should have to earn a minimum salary of £30,000 to be sponsored for a UK work visa.
Low-skilled workers would be restricted to short-term visas.
Business and education bodies last week called on the next prime minister to lower the salary threshold to £20,000.
The hospitality sector is the third-largest employer in the UK, with more than 3.2 million employees and, according to UKHospitality, 400,000 of these jobs are currently filled by workers from the EU.
Most people working in hospitality don’t earn anywhere near £30,000. Given that unemployment in the UK is currently at a 40-year low, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see the impact this threshold would have on UK hospitality.
More than 60% of all jobs in hospitality are filled by young people under 24 – and we know there will be far fewer young people coming into the jobs market over the next few years.
There is no skills shortage in the hospitality sector – there is a labour shortage. The government needs to look again at the proposals.