New challenge to hospitality sector with new RoI jobs laws

The Northern Ireland hospitality sector faces being left further behind in the race to find chefs says Colin Neill
The Northern Ireland hospitality sector faces being left further behind in the race to find chefs says Colin Neill

The Northern Ireland hospitality industry can only “look on with envy” as opportunities to recruit chefs into the sector have taken another hit Colin Neill has claimed.

The chief executive of the representative body Hospitality Ulster was speaking after the Irish Republic announced it is to legislate to allow the recruitment of suitably qualified chefs from outside the domestic market and the European Economic Area (EEA).

“With the current shortfall of chefs in Northern Ireland predicted to reach 2,000 by 2024, the hospitality industry can only once again look on with envy as ROI change their immigration laws to allow restaurants, hotels and bars in the Republic of Ireland to hire suitably qualified chefs from outside either the domestic market or the EEArea,” he said.

“Hiring chefs is a problem for businesses in both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.

“However, with this new law, it means that the Republic will be able to fill vacancies more easily and continue to grow. In essence it is another competitive disadvantage for the hospitality sector in Northern Ireland.”

With the local sector growing faster than the economy as a whole, Mr Neill said it was clear that adequate recruitment could not come from within the province alone.

“There are a number of basic common sense approaches which need to be adopted including inviting in local skills and training, maintaining the common travel area between ROI and NI, ensuring no changes to the rights of RoI citizens to work in NI and mutual recognition of qualifications.”

“However, as the ROI has recognised, even with all these measures there simply isn’t enough of a labour pool to address the shortfall. Westminster needs to recognise we are a unique market and adopt a regional migration strategy.”