Hospitality employers are in the midst of a desperate hiring campaign amid fears that Brexit could leave a shortfall of workers, a report by the ManpowerGroup has found.
The sector topped the Employment Outlook Survey, which asks more than 2,000 UK employers if they intend to increase or reduce the size of their workforce in the coming quarter.
James Hick, managing director for workforce experts the ManpowerGroup Enterprise said: “Against a backdrop of turmoil in the global markets and continuing national uncertainty, the rise in the national Outlook, to its strongest level in over a year, has confounded expectations. However, this surprise jump in confidence could actually be a mirage.
“Take the best-performing sector, Hospitality, which is up seven points to +16%, a huge 14-point rise since this time last year. On the surface, this might look like a sector that is firing on all cylinders, but this is at odds with the almost daily diet of news about struggles in the sector, such as Jamie’s Italian, which is closing a third of its sites and Byron Burger, which is closing up to 20 branches as part of a rescue plan.
“Our view on the data is that it shows how desperate employers are to fill vacancies in an industry that is heavily dependent on immigration, with up to 24% of all staff coming from the EU. Given that the sector employs around three million people, losing that proportion of the workforce would leave a shortfall of 750,000 people. In recent weeks we’ve seen more reports that the number of EU workers arriving in the UK is falling – particularly those from eastern Europe – and employers are racing to make up the shortfall.”
Kate Nicholls, CEO of UKHospitality, commented: “Generating £130bn in revenue each year, the hospitality sector is a key driver of the UK economy. Due to our rapid growth and strong trajectory, a high proportion of our skilled teams come from outside the UK. In order to keep the sector growing we need a new ministerial champion and sector deal that encourages increased, sustainable investment in skills and world-class careers.”
An unemployment report released by the Office of National Statistics in February reported a slowdown in the growth of EU workers among the UK labour force.