Celebrity Chef Jamie Oliver said all of his restaurants “would have to close if it were not for European immigrants prepared to work long hours in hot kitchens”.
The entrepreneur, who is worth an estimate £150 million, said British youngsters were “wet” in comparison to their European counterparts, who were “stronger” and “tougher”.
Oliver, 38, currently plugging his new Channel 4 show, Jamie’s Money Saving Meals, has told Good Housekeepingmagazine that he thinks “our European immigrant friends” are more cut out for hard work.
A few years ago NHS and Care Home managers were saying the same thing about Filipino workers who came to the UK in their thousands on work permits and student visas.
That all changed with the European Union expansion which saw millions of Poles, Slovakians and Hungarians migrate to the UK from former communist states.
But the sharp rise in Eastern European immigration has come at the expense of non-EU migrants, and it is Polish and Romanian workers who are now taking the job vacancies Filipinos once filled.
Oliver, who has more than 30 UK branches of Jamie’s Italian and three branches of Fifteen, where young unemployed people are taken on as apprentices, said: “If we didn’t have any (European immigrants), all of my restaurants would close tomorrow. There wouldn’t be any Brits to replace them.”
Oliver, who has previously criticised the work ethic of young Britons, added: “It’s all very well when people are slagging off immigration and I’m sure there are problems.
“Older people always complain about youth and I think it’s a good thing because it is always changing. The young will be better at different things. But long hours in hot kitchens is not one of them. I have never seen anything so wet behind the ears [as British kids] I have mummies phoning up for 23-year-olds saying to me, ‘My son is too tired’.”
Despite high UK unemployment, large companies such as the high street clothing chain Next and Tesco have been forced to hire Polish workers because they could not find enough British people to take temporary summer jobs.
The staffing problems of hospitals, care homes, hotels and restaurants could be solved by the reintroduction of temporary sector based Work Permits for highly qualified overseas workers. However, with the Conservative government promising to slash net immigration before the next election, this is unlikely to happen.
The days of mass immigration from the Philippines to the UK may look like a distant memory, but the labour needs of a country can and will change.
In the meantime, most Filipinos are more worried about tough new family migration rules or how to regularise their stay in the UK after their visas have expired.
Whilst in the UK on work or students visas, many Filipinos have entered into relationships with British or EU citizens. Relationships, or ‘family life’, can dramatically improve your chances of remaining in the UK, especially where there are children.
A child born in the UK is not automatically entitled to become a British Citizen, but that is not the end of the story.
Children born here do not immediately acquire UK citizenship unless one of the parents is British or settled in the UK. After 7 years living in the UK the child does have the right to apply, and this right to remain in the UK can extend to a parent, even if they are an overstayer or TNT.