How 'game changing' Scottish work visa could plug growing jobs chasm in hotel and restaurants

The plea for a Scottish work visa has been issued by the hospitality industry for north of the Border

The hospitality industry has called for a ‘game changer’ Scottish work visa to help plug staffing shortages as figures showed that industry vacancies north of the Border had rocketed by 60 per cent in April, compared to three months earlier.

The research, conducted by recruitment website, said chefs, front-of-house staff and restaurant management were the three most difficult roles to fill in Scotland.

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British hospitality businesses recruit more than three-quarters of their staff from within the UK, but Scottish businesses are finding unique challenges in the numbers of people available to work. The declining birth rate in Scotland and its rural nature are believed to be key factors.

Leon Thompson, executive director of UKHospitality Scotland, said: “Scotland’s hospitality and tourism sectors have been such a huge success story, and have been essential in making Scotland a leading visitor destination globally.

“Like the rest of hospitality in the UK, our businesses have struggled to recruit staff. This ongoing issue is putting at risk hospitality’s ability to serve Scotland and create places where people want to live, work and invest.”

He added: “A dedicated Scotland visa which allows sectors facing shortages to recruit essential staff would be a game changer for Scottish hospitality. It would also be clear recognition from an incoming government that the needs of business will be reflected in our approach to immigration.

“With such clear support from the business community for a dedicated Scotland visa, I hope all political parties heed the call and commit to its introduction.”

The report found seven in ten hospitality employers UK-wide are looking to other parts of the country to poach staff to fill their shortages. It also revealed the average hospitality employer is planning to hire seven additional staff over the peak summer period.

The report said: “This is a watershed moment for the hospitality industry. Amidst ongoing skill shortages, we are also witnessing a rising interest in what a career in the industry has to offer, with over eight million people considering taking a role in the sector.

“But, as a quarter of businesses struggle to find suitable candidates locally, the need to broaden the search for talent has never been clearer.” The concept of a Scotland-specific visa has been raised previously as a solution to falling populations and employment gaps. Immigration is not a devolved issue, with those wanting to move to Scotland from abroad subject to the same Home Office rules as those looking to emigrate to the UK.

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The Building A New Scotland paper, published by the Scottish Government last year, set out proposals for a migration policy if Scotland were to become independent. The plans set out how a new “Live in Scotland” visa would support migration to rural and island communities to help to address depopulation.

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “Responsibility for immigration and employment law is reserved to the UK government.

“While labour shortages and recruitment difficulties remain problematic for businesses across many sectors, the issue is particularly acute in tourism and hospitality. People who move to Scotland make an enormous contribution to society by helping grow our economy, address skills shortages, and contribute to public services. They are also vital to meeting our population needs.”



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