Brexit’s effects on the London food scene are various, vicious and vitriolic. Now, it’s extinguished a light that was glimmering at the end of a very long tunnel, leaving representatives for the hospitality industry dismayed.
The government announced new T-Level qualifications for catering and hospitality in March of this year, inspiring hope among industry insiders. The thought was simple — more people, fully trained, ready to take up the extra 260,000 vacancies that the industry needs to fill year-on-year. The courses are specifically targeted at 16-19 year olds, in a surprisingly forward-looking move for an establishment determined to isolate Britain at all costs.
Now those very qualifications have been delayed until at least 2022, slotting in on the Brexit timeline at one-and-a-half years after freedom of movement grinds to a halt that will be, undoubtedly, an absolute catastrophe for the hospitality industry. Restaurants and bars in dire need of staff will have to wait until 2023 for the graduates, only widening the local employment gap as Brexit curtails migrant flow.
If you voted Leave and enjoy eating out, I suggest you do it before Brexit because afterwards there will be be absolutely no fucking staff.— Hugh R Wright (@HRWright) September 6, 2017
British Hospitality Association chief executive Ufi Ibrahim has written to the ministers concerned — Brandon Lewis, immigration; Anne Milton, education — to prevent the delay, telling them, and the rest of London, that:
We are not in a position to fill these vacancies without hiring non-UK workers. This is due to the fact that the UK is currently at near full employment and because the educational system does not encourage young people to consider a career in hospitality. It was my hope that the new Catering and Hospitality T-Level would address the latter point and so I was dismayed to find out that these qualifications have been delayed.
Ibrahim went on to say that “If migratory flows for workers from the EU and beyond are severely curtailed ... the hospitality industry will be forced to contract, costing jobs and economic growth.”
Coming amidst high-profile losses and rapid small-chain expansion, the perfect hospitality storm that is Brexit looks set to thunder on unchecked.