Barista Visa

The UK is facing a severe skills gap in the hospitality industry. Nearly 40% of hospitality businesses are having issues with recruiting skilled staff to fill jobs in food outlets, restaurants, bars, and other tourism-related businesses.

In the coffee industry, baristas remain among the hardest jobs to recruit staff.

“But being a barista is easy, you’re just making coffee for people”, you may think.

Well, coffee shops all over Britain are struggling to fill their barista roles. In this article, we will discuss why, and explain exactly what a Barista Visa is.

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What is a Barista Visa?

A Barista Visa does not officially exist as a visa. It is a proposal put forward which would allow young European citizens to come to the UK for 2 years to work in ‘low-skilled’ hospitality jobs, such as being a barista. But these European citizens would not be able to claim benefits or free housing while they are in the UK.

The idea for a Barista Visa was suggested by Lord Green, the chairman of the think tank Migration Watch UK after Britain decided to leave the European Union. Labour shortages in coffee shops, cafes, restaurants and bars were expected after Brexit, as these are often staffed by European citizens.

Lord Green said the Barista Visa scheme could be extended to young citizens of other countries, but they could not become long-term immigrants in the UK, as this would “add to the pressures on public services.”

The Barista Visa is inspired by the existing Youth Mobility Scheme Visa, which allows 18 to 30-year-olds from certain countries to live and work in the UK for up to 24 months.

Young people from Australia, Canada, Monaco, New Zealand, San Marino, Iceland can apply for the scheme, as well as young people from Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan, if they are selected in a ballot.

Click here to learn more about the Youth Mobility Scheme Visa.

Because being a barista is seen as a ‘low-skilled’ job, someone who works in a coffee shop would not qualify for a Skilled Worker Visa in the UK. This means that coffee shop bosses cannot sponsor foreign workers and recruit them in barista roles by using a Skilled Worker Visa. Hence, the idea of a Barista Visa has been welcomed by several coffee shop bosses, as they believe it would solve their problem of struggling to fill hospitality job roles.

Click here to learn more about the Skilled Worker Visa.

Why are hospitality businesses struggling to recruit baristas?

Barista jobs are just not attracting enough employees. The coffee shop industry experiences high staff turnover rates. Many people are put off by wages, rude customers, unsociable working hours, limited career progression, and the physical toll of being on your feet to make coffee for hours on end.

The UK is the largest coffee-consuming market in Europe, having imported 148,000 tons of coffee in 2021. But being a barista is seen as a ‘low-skilled’ job, so it doesn’t attract many job applicants here in the UK. That is why many large coffee chains and independent coffee shops hire workers from outside of the UK: it is estimated that Starbucks, Café Nero and Costa Coffee rely on a workforce of around 12.3 to 23.7% EU nationals.

Additionally, many hospitality bosses face recruitment issues because they  report a lack of skills in their current employees, such as up-to-date IT skills. For instance, an employee may have spent years serving coffee, but when the business incorporates new technology, the barista might struggle to adapt due to a lack of digital knowledge.

Another scenario could be that an employee is comfortable doing manual work such as stocking shelves or delivery driving, but they don’t want to operate the till and handle cash. This might limit their career progression opportunities, as they have not learned any new skills outside of manual labour.

Both Brexit and the Covid-19 pandemic have exacerbated recruitment issues in the hospitality sector. UK hospitality businesses have lost almost 200,000 international workers since the end of 2019, which is forcing these companies to reduce their trading hours, increase prices, or shut down altogether.

How do worker shortages affect businesses?

Labour shortages are detrimental to the employer, employees, and stakeholders. For example:

  • Adds extra burden and pressure on existing workers, putting them at risk of dampened morale, burnout, and quitting.
  • Stops the business from growing financially, as it means having to say no to more orders from clients or customers.
  • Puts the company at a disadvantage with their competitors, who have more labour, growth, profits and success.
  • Makes it harder for companies to ensure security of their company building, as there are less employees working there.
  • Causes delays and disruptions to the supply chain, which creates more problems for the company.
  • More frustration and problems for customers. For instance, longer waiting times, delays, more mix-ups and errors.
  • Less staff for customers and stakeholders to interact with, which may lead to more problems.
  • The company might have to increase their prices to maintain their profit level, which passes the cost onto the consumer, making it more expensive for them to buy those goods or services.

How can businesses overcome labour shortages?

Are you an employer who is looking to recruit foreign workers?

Do you need help with obtaining a  Sponsor Licence, or perhaps you need better understanding of what the Skilled Worker Visa and Global Business Mobility routes are?

Well, we at Synergy Immigration Solutions can support you through the whole process of applying to sponsor foreign workers, to help you recruit your ideal candidates.

No more anxieties about filling labour shortages that are holding back the growth of your business.

​Let Synergy Immigration Solutions guide you through to a successful outcome, so you can sponsor foreign workers in your business, and resolve your recruitment issues.

We will manage the end-to-end process for you and answer any questions you may have, so you can feel confident that you have a strong application.​

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    We are UK immigration specialists and assist UK employers with sponsorship applications. We do not provide sponsorship or employment.