Bacta, the trade association for the UK’s amusement and gaming machine industry, has joined calls for the government to ease employment requirements to alleviate a labour shortfall impacting multiple sectors.
In a letter penned by CEO John White, Bacta attributes the UK’s current labour crisis to the effects of Brexit and the Covid pandemic, which have caused many foreign workers in the hospitality industry to leave the UK and not return.
The dire circumstances for the hospitality sector are compounded by the perception that the “UK is no longer an attractive proposition for a variety of reasons, not least the cost-of-living crisis, employment opportunities, and the bureaucracy involved in obtaining work visas.”
White has urged the government to put jobs in the hospitality sector on the ‘shortage occupations’ list, which would facilitate employment from outside the UK.
Bacta joins wider calls from the hospitality, leisure, and entertainment sectors urging the government to review its immigration rules and skill-set requirements for foreign workers.
Whilst respecting the government’s tougher approach to immigration, Bacta recognises that finding a way to replicate the advantages of free movement while still maintaining border control poses a challenge.
White concluded: “From a business perspective, the free movement of people was a godsend; however, it was not what the population voted for in 2016 and it’s unlikely to return. The big challenge for this and future governments is to identify how to replicate the benefits of free movement and balance the outcome with the political imperative of demonstrating that the UK has control of its borders.”
The UK government maintains that it reviews its immigration policy on a frequent basis. Last year, the government approved a short-visa scheme for workers in the construction sector but refused to sanction ‘hospitality visas’ despite an outcry from sector bosses.