Joss Croft, CEO of UKinbound has commented:
“The Government have decided to adopt several of the MAC’s recommendations in its new immigration policy which we welcome such as the drop in the proposed salary threshold to £25,600 (and a 30% reduction in this salary threshold for new entrants), the abolition of the resident labour market test and a sensible visa system for skilled and high skilled workers. This will go some way towards helping our members to recruit the staff that they need to run successful, profitable businesses.
However, it is concerning that there is no mention of foreign language skills being included in a future points based system. UK based tour operators and other parts of the industry rely heavily on their non-UK employees to conduct negotiations in foreign languages and liaise with our international visitors – our competitors offer world class service and so should we.
Our research published in 2018 ‘Breaking the Language Barrier’ demonstrated that there has been a long-term decline in the production of home grown linguists over the past 20 years which is why our members simply cannot find enough British nationals with these skills in the UK. Solutions through additional language education for UK nationals may come too late for some businesses. This is one of the reasons why the tourism and hospitality industry is calling for a temporary, time limited scheme for those workers who will not meet the criteria under the proposed system (but whose roles are vital to the success of the tourism industry) so that businesses have time to adjust and work in partnership with the Government on increased language and other training programmes for British workers.
Furthermore, if the Government intends to monitor vacancy levels and adjust its immigration policy accordingly – it also needs to include more appropriate Standard Occupational Classifications for the tourism industry which do not currently exist.
Going forward, we will be carefully reviewing the detailed proposals once published and urging the Government to ensure that their new immigration policy does not damage our hugely successful inbound tourism industry which is currently worth around £23 billion to the UK economy.”