UK MP backs Sylhet catering college for skilled chefs
Thursday, 09 October 2008

Skilled chefs

Staff Correspondent

Visiting British MP Keith Vaz said Wednesday he would ask his government to support Bangladesh in setting up a catering college in Sylhet to produce skilled chefs and cooks for the UK's curry industry.

Keith Vaz is chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee for making recommendations on migration issues to the British home affairs ministry.
 
He said the proposed catering college would resolve the problems of the newly introduced point-based system which bars low-skilled Bangladeshis from entering Britain for work.
 
"We are really excited with the foreign affairs adviser's idea to create a catering college in Sylhet. We think that it is a very, very exciting idea," Vaz told reporters following his meeting with foreign adviser Iftekhar Ahmed Chowdhury at the foreign ministry.
 
The foreign adviser told reporters that the interim government had taken the initiative as the British curry industry, mainly run by Bangladeshis, requires at least 12,000 more chefs and cooks at present.
 
Said Vaz: "We will certainly go back to our government to see what help they can give in order to assist with this idea."
 
"Of course [the catering college] will deal with a number of issues in the point-based system, if we have here a properly accredited organisation that deals with skills for chefs," he said.
 
The PBS, introduced in February this year, makes it difficult for Bangladeshi chefs and restaurant workers with a poor knowledge of English to settle in the country.
 
The Bangladesh Catering Association in the UK claims Britain's curry industry has an annual turnover of £3.5 billion a year, and is totally dominated by low-skilled Bangladeshi workers.
 
If immigration laws are not relaxed, the curry industry in the UK will collapse, fear the Bangladeshi caterers who have been pursing systematic campaigns and lobbying the UK government since 2006 to allow restaurant workers from Bangladesh into the country.
 
The British government, on Sept 10, included the curry industry in the shortage occupation list for which the UK government could allow low-skilled restaurant workers from Bangladesh into Britain, fulfilling certain conditions.
 
Keith Vaz came to Bangladesh with a six-member delegation to meet with government and private stakeholders to finalise their recommendations on the matter.

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