The British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) has welcomed a proposal in a report from think tank Policy Exchange for an extension of the Youth Mobility Scheme.

The Youth Mobility Scheme is for young people who want to live, work and travel in the United Kingdom for a period of up to two years. It is only open to countries which have a reciprocal agreement with the UK, which are mainly in the Commonwealth.

BBPAThe BBPA has been calling for the Youth Mobility Scheme to be extended to cover more EU countries, or alternatively form an agreement with the EU itself to cover all of its members.

This is particularly important for the beer and pub sector, since 46% of pub employees are under the age of 25 and, according to a recent survey of BBPA members, some 17% of employees in the sector are from overseas. This rises to 40% in metropolitan areas, and in particular areas, like kitchen staff, this figure can reach 80%.

The ability for young EU workers to come to the UK for a maximum of 2 years (and possibly longer), and not to count towards the migration numbers would be invaluable, says the BBPA.

Policy Exchange published a wide-ranging new paper on immigration after Brexit. The BBPA believes it is vitally important that there is a reasoned debate on the make-up of immigration post-Brexit. There is a range of policies the Home Office can implement to make the Brexit transition easier for the beer and pub sector.

The BBPA works hard to encourage young people who are UK nationals to work in the beer and pub industry, including through awards schemes, such as the Parliamentary Pub Chef of the Year. However, the BBPA is calling for much-needed changes to the ‘tier’ immigration system to ensure the beer and pub sector can continue to thrive.

The BBPA is also calling for:

  • a simplification of the very complex and time-consuming visa system, and a better understanding of the need for ‘soft skills’ and salary requirements which fit semi-skilled roles like pub chefs;
  • a review of the requirement for non-UK workers to have a traditional contract of employment before they travel to the UK, which would prevent access to those who wish to be self-employed in the pub sector;
  • a reduction in costs for business to recruit non-UK workers.

BBPA chief executive, Brigid Simmonds, said: “For the beer and pub sector to succeed post-Brexit, the immigration system, particularly for young people, needs a comprehensive review. Over 80% of UK pubs are small businesses. It is vitally important they have access to the skills they need without the burdensome nature of the current visa system.

“The BBPA and our members are working hard to attract UK nationals to work with us, but an extension of the Youth Mobility Scheme and revision of the ‘tier’ system would be hugely beneficial.”

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