You can’t get the staff these days!: Hospitality industry facing jobs crisis

June 12, 2021

3 min read

Sign up to our mailing list! 👇

What's going on here?

The hospitality industry is struggling to find staff to fill their high number of vacancies as they are finally allowed to open up again after months of lockdown. 

What does this mean?

The hospitality industry is facing a jobs crisis. With lockdown restriction easing, restaurants, cafes, pubs and hotels are looking to employ staff once again. From 17th May 52,000 venues employing about 900,000 people were planning to reopen in England, Scotland and Wales. This is in addition to the 26,000 venues who opened for outside trading in April. 

Many of these venues need to hire new staff for their reopening, having cut down on staff numbers over the series of UK Lockdowns and periods of social restriction. However, they are struggling to attract new employees. A combination of the impact of Brexit, the perceived unreliability of work in hospitality in the wake of the pandemic and the fact that so many venues are hiring at once, means that there are many more vacancies than there are people who want to fill them. Recent findings by global recruitment firm Broadbean Technology show that from March to April 2021 hospitality vacancies rose by 77%, but compared to April 2020 the number of applications has dropped by 82%.  

Many employers are launching new benefit schemes to try to boost recruitment. Hawksmoor, a restaurant group, is offering bonuses of up to £2,000 to employees who successfully recommend their friends for jobs and Caravan, another restaurant group, are offering £100 gift vouchers to customers who successfully refer someone for a job.

What's the big picture effect?

This jobs crisis could hinder the hospitality industry’s much-needed recovery after prolonged restrictions on trade during the pandemic. Enforced closures, limited seating, restrictions on booking size and curfew times have made the past year very difficult for hospitality. Businesses have gone under, and many more are seriously struggling to survive, making the current employee drought all the more concerning. 

Post-Brexit, many young EU workers have moved away from the UK and fewer have come here looking for jobs. The UK hospitality industry has relied heavily on European workers for many years: in 2019 they represented the majority of those taking up new roles. The pandemic has meant that many more people from countries abroad who were working in the industry have returned home. Due to travel restrictions and the uncertainty of the development of the pandemic, we do not know if and when these people will return.  Even if they do return, the hospitality industry may not look like an appealing option. After such an uncertain year people are searching for stability and security in their employment options and the ever-changing lockdown restrictions make a job in hospitality seem quite unstable. Many of these vacancies will not be offering more than the National Living Wage, even though the work involves manual labour, long hours and late shifts. Furthermore, these jobs bring exposure to lots of people every day, indoors and probably without masks. This is something that people can feel very anxious about as lockdown slowly eases. 

The government needs to look into adapting visa requirements to accommodate more workers and help boost the recovery of the hospitality industry. There may well be an increase in the use of technology in the industry, with at-table ordering via an app already in place in many cafes, pubs and restaurants. However, for many, this does not provide the true experience of hospitality that we have all missed over the past year. 

The hospitality industry brings billions of pounds to the UK economy every year (£59.3 billion in 2019). After a year of economic uncertainty and recession, a full recovery is vital. So, businesses must find new ways to entice workers to take up jobs in hospitality once again. 

Report written by Elizabeth Ambrose

Share this now!

Check out our recent reports!