In Birmingham’s famous Balti triangle, skilled chefs from Pakistan prepare curry at the Al Faisals restaurant.
The manager, Qasim Khan, says without foreign labour, he would struggle to staff the restaurant as British workers do not apply when they advertise work.
“It’s very, very difficult to get people to work in the restaurant sector,” he says.
“We are having a very difficult time. People are not applying.
“People are not interested in entering the hospitality sector as a waiter, as a chef.”
Siddesh Barki, 23, is a part-time waiter at the restaurant.
He arrived in the UK on a student visa in January and is studying for a Masters in Hospitality at Birmingham City University.
When the course ends next year, he plans to stay in the UK.
“I would like to convert my visa to a work visa,” he says, adding that he plans to find a sponsoring company and stay for at least five years.
“I want to stay in this country, earn a good amount of money, earn a good amount of respect and learn a lot of new things – so I will,” he says.
At a nearby garage, they have a steady supply of work, but one of their mechanics is about to retire.
Naveed Sadiq, one of the managers, says they have been advertising locally without success for two years.
“Trying to hire a mechanic is like trying to find a needle in a haystack,” he says.
He explains: “Because if you’re a mechanic and you work in the UK, you become self-employed. Why would you want to be employed?”
This means that he is now looking to bring in someone from Pakistan.
“We can give someone an opportunity to get out of a life of poverty and help bring his family here,” he says.
‘It worries us’
Register migration numbers shows the number of people entering the country via legal routes has increased sharply, especially the number of people coming from outside the EU on work visas.
For one government that promised to reduce net migrationit’s a big problem—and one that’s likely to irk many voters.
On the streets of Birmingham, shoppers were divided over what ministers should do next.
“It worries us,” said one couple, adding: “It’s more pressure on the National Health Service.
“That’s why we came out on Brexit, wasn’t it, for this reason? So it needs to be pushed down more.”
Others see a difference between legal migration and people crossing the Channel in small boats.
“We want as many nurses, doctors, skilled workers as we can get and pay them the right money, pay them what they deserve,” one man said, adding: “The country needs skilled workers so legal migration is I totally agree. favor.”
But many feel that the number of migrants must decrease.
“Of course I feel for people who come from a terrible regime that they come from,” said one woman. “They need some kind of help and a safe place to be.
“But we’re obviously bursting at the seams here, so we expect the government to step up and do something.”