The 3.5 billion-pound Indian restaurant industry breathed a sigh of relief on Tuesday as a key UK government panel said skilled chefs can be recruited from outside the European Union, but in bad news for Indian and other non-EU IT workers, the committee shut the doors on them.
The Indian restaurant industry has been crippled by a severe shortage of chefs. Many restaurants have closed down as owners find it difficult to recruit from the Indian sub-continent due to recent changes in immigration laws.
Following public demonstrations by restaurant owners and workers in London and Glasgow, the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) of the Home Office has listed 'skilled chefs' as one of the occupations in which there is a shortage.
Being listed as a shortage occupation will enable restaurant owners to recruit from the Indian sub-continent.
Keith Best, head of the Immigration Advisory Service, who has been in the forefront to ensure that laws are relaxed to recruit non-EU chefs, told PTI: "I welcome the fact that skilled chefs have been included in the shortage occupation list.
"However, I am taking soundings from the industry whether the development meets the requirement to a satisfactory level. The stipulation of paying at least 8.10 pounds an hour for chefs may cause some difficulties".
Best, however, added that further negotiations were required to ensure that the industry's needs are met. He said there were "several thousand" vacancies of skilled chefs in the industry.