Overseas skills shortage looms over UK hospitality boom

The hospitality industry in the UK is facing staff shortages caused by the nation’s record employment rate causing a job seeker shortage and that Brexit is deterring workers from both Asia and the EU.

UK hospitality industry facing labour shortages
The British Hospitality Association (BHA) is warning that hotels and restaurants are increasingly reliant on a flow of skilled labour from Europe, with 700,000 of the sector's 3.2 million workforce coming from the EU.

Drop in immigration numbers poses risk to hospitality industry

Ufi Ibrahim, BHA chief executive, said that the industry already has more than 100,000 job vacancies. "Our industry recognises that immigration policy must change but, at a time when unemployment is at its lowest since 1975, any material and sudden change to the supply of workforce to the UK labour market would have severe consequences for the hospitality industry," he said."We have been clear about the risks to the growth of our industry, the UK's fourth largest employer, if there is an abrupt end to freedom of movement from the EU and it is alarming that we are starting to see the effects now."For example, restaurants are finding it increasingly difficult to hire leading chefs from Europe and beyond. We've had reports that owners have been forced to delay or abandon plans to open new restaurants due to the uncertainty surrounding the future rights of EU citizens in the UK."This level of uncertainly is putting off much needed service industry workers and is now impacting investment decisions. This shortage isn't limited to European chefs but also applies to specialised chefs from India and China."The jobs website Adzuna says it has recorded a 16.3 per cent rise in advertised vacancies in the hospitality industry since the start of the year, increasing from 44,542 in January to 51,880 in July – an increase of almost a quarter on the previous year, amid increasing demand as more Britons opted to holiday at home, rather than abroad, because of the fall in the value of sterling.

Brits opting for a ‘staycation’ in 2017

Doug Monro, Adzuna co-founder, said, "More of us are swapping the Mediterranean for Margate and choosing to holiday closer to home, and as a result the hospitality industry is thriving."The hospitality sector is a prime example of the importance of a clear-cut pro-migration strategy in order for the UK labour market to thrive. The skilled labour force from the EU has contributed and enhanced our talent pool in the UK to deliver good customer service."In August, a report from Barclays Business showed the UK’s tourism economy was thriving, with turnover for hospitality businesses up eight per cent on a year earlier.
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Research found that 75 per cent of British adults had been on, or were planning to go on, a UK 'staycation' this year – up from 70 per cent this time last year. The number of foreign visitors was up by seven per cent in June, again largely as a result of the fall in the value of the pound.Ian Rand, chief executive of Barclays Business, commented, “While it’s good news for the UK economy that more Brits are opting to spend their holidays in the UK, our poll shows purse strings are being tightened and domestic spending is down. However the weak pound is attracting growing numbers of inbound tourists, which is having a healthy impact on SME businesses in the accommodation and food services sectors.“It is essential that UK businesses plan ahead and carefully position themselves to take advantage of the opportunities both domestic and overseas tourists can offer. Our research shows the value of both and it is crucial that businesses market their products and services to cater for a global market and diversify between seasons."For related news and features, visit our Human Resources section.Access hundreds of global services and suppliers in our Online DirectoryClick to get to the Relocate Global Online Directory  Get access to our free Global Mobility Toolkit Global Mobility Toolkit download factsheets resource centre

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