The hospitality industry could face significant staff shortages as one in ten sector workers consider leaving the UK due to Brexit

The hospitality industry could face significant staff shortages as one in ten sector workers consider leaving the UK due to Brexit.

  • 1 in 5 hospitality businesses are finding recruitment harder than last year with serious concerns raised about fulfilling staff requirements over the next 5 years
  • 3% of businesses predicted to close as a result of Brexit, which would mean a loss to the UK economy of around £1.1bn
  • 53% of workers think that Brexit has made the UK a less welcoming place to live and work

The UK hospitality industry could face significant staff shortages if results from a new survey launched by workforce collaboration software company Planday come to pass. The survey, conducted by YouGov, reveals that just over one in ten workers (11%, which is equivalent to around 330,000* staff nationally) working in UK restaurants, catering, bars and hotels are thinking about leaving the UK as a result of Brexit. This is in stark contrast to hospitality managers’ expectations that only around 4% of their workers are considering leaving the UK due to Brexit.

Industry stagnation

3% of hospitality managers predict that they will be forced to close their businesses as a result of Brexit, which nationally could equate to around a £1.1 billion loss for the economy**. Almost 1 in 5 (18%) of hospitality managers find recruitment harder now than in April 2017. 16% of hospitality managers do not think they will be able to fulfil their staffing requirements over the next 5 years with domestic workers.

John Coldicutt, Chief Commercial Officer for Planday commented: “These findings show to us the depth of the potential impact of Brexit on the UK economy, with the hospitality industry being hit especially hard. There’s clearly false confidence within the hospitality sector with almost three times as many workers considering leaving as managers expect. Now more than ever it’s crucial that managers make sure they have the right infrastructure in place to engage their employees and build genuine loyalty.”

Specific job concerns for hospitality workers

30% of workers expressed some form of concern about their job as a result of Brexit. Topping the list were immigration worries, with 24% (equivalent to around 86,500* people nationally) of staff polled who are born outside of the UK concerned that they would be forced to leave. The other key staff worries amongst all staff focus on expectations of pay decrease (11%) or being made to work longer hours (6%). About a third of managers (32%) who haven’t done so already think they will have to pay higher salaries and will experience labour (21%) and skills shortages (15%) as a result of Brexit.

The sector calls on government to do more

Hospitality managers want more support from the government, calling for the following:

Almost half (45%) of hospitality managers want the government to offer some form of assistance to the sector due to Brexit
30% want specific work permits or visas for hospitality workers post Brexit.

Hospitality workers feel unwelcome

37% of workers don’t think the government understands or is representing the needs of non-UK EU workers in the hospitality sector
53% of hospitality workers think that Brexit has made the UK a less welcoming place to live and work

The industry is stepping up to the challenge

To help address some of the issues that Brexit will present, managers in the 76% of firms who say they are Brexit-ready are taking the following action:

  • Training (10%) or upskilling staff (8%)
  • 15% are looking at actively recruiting from different markets like older employees or working parents
  • Increasing salaries (8%), or benefits for staff (4%)
  • 9% are looking at introducing more flexibility to appeal to more workers

Peter Ducker, chief executive of the Institute of Hospitality commented: “Brexit will present some fundamental challenges to our sector if the changes proposed around immigration are approved, given the sheer number of staff and businesses that would be affected. These results clearly show the need across the sector for forward-planning and we are encouraged to see evidence of the industry stepping up to the challenges ahead through increased training and upskilling as well as the many innovative recruitment strategies we know our members are starting to put in place.”

The industry statistics in this release have been drawn from two British Hospitality Association reports:

*Labour Migration in the Hospitality Sector in 2017 which indicates that the total of the number of workers in the Hospitality industry is 3 million people.

**The Economic Contribution of The UK Hospitality Industry in 2017 which indicates that SME’s make up 99% of the UK hospitality industry and that SMEs contributed £37bn to the sector.

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