UKHospitality warns of 'staffing crisis' as sector faces shortage of 188,000 workers

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

UKHospitality warns of 'staffing crisis' as sector faces shortage of 188,000 workers

Related tags Recruitment Staff brexit Coronavirus

UKHospitality has warned that the sector faces a 'staffing crisis' amid calls for the Government to stick its lockdown reopening roadmap and remove all social distancing restrictions on 21 June.

New analysis by the trade body, which is based on a survey of hundreds of hospitality operators, suggests a current vacancy rate across the sector of 9%; implying a shortage of 188,000 workers.

The shortage of front-of-house staff and chefs is particularly acute, with 80% of those surveyed reporting vacancies for front-of-house roles, such as waiting and bar staff, and 85% are in need of chefs.

Some 47% have housekeeping vacancies, and 43% are looking for assistant or general managers.

UKHospitality has called on the Government to stick to its plan to lift all restrictions on 21 June, in order to help restore confidence in the hospitality sector and encourage workers to return to the industry.

It has also called for the introduction of an 'Australian-style visa scheme' to enable overseas workers who do not meet the threshold demanded by the new point-based immigration system to come to the UK.

“The Government must restore confidence in the hospitality sector so that it is again seen as a stable employer and provider of fulfilling careers." says Kate Nicholls, UKHospitality chief executive. 

“To facilitate this, it must stick to the re-opening roadmap, lifting all restrictions from 21 June. This will restore consumer confidence and give a strong signal to workers that hospitality will bounce back strongly.

"Beyond this, the single biggest act of support that Government could give would be to encourage more UK-based workers to join the hospitality sector.

“It is also time for the Government to review its list of shortage occupations and consider the introduction of an Australian-style visa scheme to enable the workers we need, who don’t meet the point-based system, to come and work here.

The survey showed that for overseas workers, many of whom returned home at the beginning of the pandemic, travel restrictions were a primary reason they had chosen not to return to the UK. Nearly a fifth said the cost of quarantine on return was preventing them from coming back. 

UKHospitality's research follows recent data​ published by Fourth that showed the impact of the pandemic and post-Brexit immigration systems had led to a 'significant reduction' in EU nationals working in the hospitality sector.

In the first quarter of 2021, 34.9% of new starters were from the EU, compared to 48.6% in Q1 2019; and in total, EU workers made up 39.4% of the hospitality workforce, compared to 43.4% in Q1 2019.

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