Chefs react to notion that hospitality work is unskilled

The  Staff Canteen

Yesterday, the government announced plans to introduce a points-based immigration system, whereby so-called unskilled workers won't be allowed to work and live in the UK. 

Under the new regime, free movement will be ended for anyone not meeting a points threshold, requiring, among other criteria, that they have received a job offer earning at least £25,600 - unless it has been singled out for having a skills shortage. 

Among the sectors to bear the brunt of the new policy is hospitality, which relies on the influx of EU citizens to fill positions in an industry which is, according to UKHospitality chief executive, Kate Nicholls, near full employment. 

She told The Guardian that “ruling out a temporary, low-skilled route for migration in just 10 months’ time would be disastrous for the hospitality sector and the British people.”

Chefs were prolific in their reactions on our Facebook page. We picked the arguments that got the most traction to continue the debate: 

Chef Dean Banks, runner up in the MasterChef: The Professionals competition in 2018 and director of Haar restaurant said the new points-based system would definitely have a negative impact on the industry - starting with his own team: 


Many were left wondering who gets to decide the difference between skilled and unskilled professions. 


Others, like chef Ellis Barrie, pondered where the line would be drawn - and who to turn to for answers as to which roles do class as 'skilled':


The answer, of course, lies in the salary - which some see could be positive driving force for the industry.

Stuart Todd suggested that the classification - and the lack of draw - could come from the low salary levels in the industry, and that by offering better pay, the skills shortage would be less of a concern. 

One chef pointed out that instead of lamenting the lack of skill in the industry, his peers should follow his lead by reaching out to young people. 


Not a chef - but nonetheless an outspoken voice for the industry - Fred Sirieix called for the imminent launch of a coalition for the industry, including professionals, educationalists and ministers. 

"More than ever we need an urgent plan to solve the hospitality industry staff and skills shortage. Here is my proposal. "


As in the whole immigration debate, some weren't critical of the new legislation, and called on others to look on the bright side, venturing that it could bring good things for the industry, like a reduction in VAT, better sponsorship opportunities for chefs around the world, and a unionised workforce. 


What are your thoughts? Do you think the points-based system will be good or bad for the hospitality industry? Share your thoughts in the comments!

In these challenging times…

The Staff Canteen team are taking a different approach to keeping our website independent and delivering content free from commercial influence. Our Editorial team have a critical role to play in informing and supporting our audience in a balanced way. We would never put up a paywall and restrict access – The Staff Canteen is open to all and we want to keep bringing you the content you want; more from younger chefs, more on mental health, more tips and industry knowledge, more recipes and more videos. We need your support right now, more than ever, to keep The Staff Canteen active. Without your financial contributions this would not be possible.

Over the last 12 years, The Staff Canteen has built what has become the go-to platform for chefs and hospitality professionals. As members and visitors, your daily support has made The Staff Canteen what it is today. Our features and videos from the world’s biggest name chefs are something we are proud of. We have over 500,000 followers across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and other social channels, each connecting with chefs across the world. Our editorial and social media team are creating and delivering engaging content every day, to support you and the whole sector - we want to do more for you.

A single coffee is more than £2, a beer is £4.50 and a large glass of wine can be £6 or more.

Support The Staff Canteen from as little as £1 today. Thank you.

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 20th February 2020

Chefs react to notion that hospitality work is unskilled