UK Curry Connect
Indian restaurant owner, Moslek Uddin, realised the industry had a real recruitment problem when he tried to recruit a new head chef and started researching himself to find a solution. He found that long-established restaurants were closing their doors, due to the lack of skilled staff, as well as a fear of being unfairly penalised with disproportionate fines for unwittingly employing 'undocumented migrants'. The numbers of new personnel coming into the industry and finding it attractive were nowhere near meeting the levels required.
Starting with just a Facebook group, this soon gathered momentum and United Kingdom Curry Connect was formed to address staffing and other issues in the industry. UKCC is now an established campaign and lobby group with the largest membership of all the industry bodies, ranging from business owners to employees. UKCC now finds itself at the forefront of representing the plights this industry faces, with emphasis on finding a solution to the severe shortage of skilled chefs to keep the British curry industry alive. Connective the catering industry and working together gives a much better chance to find the right solutions and, most importantly, get the government to listen. UKCC now collaborates with industry suppliers, banks, insurance companies, utilities, the Craft Guild of Chefs, Chambers of Commerce and the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) on the three step solution which they feel is perfect for this industry.
• Step 1 – Discretionary Leave to Remain [partial amnesty] be available to skilled staff on a limited and conditional basis.
• Step 2 – Remove the clause from restaurants that do take-aways cannot be included in the Special Occupation List, as well as reducing the minimum salary requirement to that of the national average for a chef.
• Step 3 – Encourage the ‘next generation’ to consider entering the industry as an alternative and rewarding career choice, thus generating future home-grown talent by providing funding for catering schools. Training to be provided on all aspects of catering, including marketing, PR, business management, etc. (This training can also be provided for existing staff who wish for personal development.)
The British curry industry has become an integral part of our society and is worth an estimated £4 billion to the treasury annually, employing over 200,000 people directly, with hundreds and thousands more in the supply and ancillary industry. There are numerous award-winning restaurateurs and business owners who support local organisations and charities. These contributions have not only been recognised nationally with industry bodies, but also by the British honours system.
This whole industry is now under unprecedented threat and UKCC are making a stand and fighting back against this adversity to save the nation’s favourite food and the industry they are so passionate about.