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HU welcomes scrapping of minimum salary threshold for immigrants

Colin Neill, chief executive, Hospitality Ulster.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s move to scrap a £30,000 minimum salary threshold for immigrants arriving after Brexit has been welcomed by Hospitality Ulster Chief Executive Colin Neill.

“The scrapping of this threshold will come as very welcome news to the hospitality sector here,” he said. “In Northern Ireland, with unemployment at an all-time low, one in five of the workforce in our sector is filled by those classed as foreign workers who are an essential part of our industry.

“The future of our industry is reliant on staff from elsewhere being able to work and live here to support the shortfall in local labour. As the backbone of our tourism offer, it is vital that our industry has the ability to grow with access to a pool of both local and overseas labour.

“For example, by 2024, just four years from now, we will need an additional 2,000 chefs. Collectively, the sector will have over 30,000 job vacancies to fill over the same period. It is clear that these vacancies can’t be filled from within Northern Ireland and retaining access to labour from overseas is vital.

“Prior to this shift from the Prime Minister today, the financial threshold proposed policy failed to recognise the value of people with ‘soft skills’ which are a central part of our hospitality and tourism offer. Having access to an experienced workforce, many of whom have extensive language skills to work in customer facing roles, is absolutely essential. An experienced barperson who can speak multiple languages is a skilled worker and has a valuable role to play in the NI economy.

“Issues around overseas workers being able to come and work in the UK, and NI in particular, are still of great concern to us. Our immigration policy needs to be based on our economic need, while meeting our legal obligations and treating people fairly. We will continue to call on the UK Government to widen its definition of skills.”

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