UKH warns sector faces staffing crisis & calls on Government to stick to roadmap

New analysis by industry association UKHospitality has revealed the extent of the staffing crisis facing a sector that is already in a hugely fragile state following more than a year of closures and severely restricted trading.

Its analysis is based on a survey of hundreds of hospitality operators. 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.

The survey suggests a current vacancy rate across the sector of 9% - which implies a shortage of 188,000 workers.

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

“To facilitate this, it must stick to the reopening roadmap, lifting all restrictions from 21st 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.'

Nicholls continued, “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 hospitality industry has invested heavily to ensure venues are safe places to visit and work. By lifting restrictions on the 21st June and with support, we can get back to what we do best - and power the engine of our economic and social recovery.”

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.