Although pubs and restaurants are back open, the hospitality industry in the UK is far from stable. Hospitality has been deeply affected by the Covid pandemic with many businesses struggling to ride out the storm, some sadly failing. Couple that with the effects of staff shortages due to Brexit and it’s no wonder business owners are struggling to see the light at the end of the tunnel. The effects of Brexit and Covid on the hospitality workforce are immense and even with restrictions lifting, there is a question of how will they survive and how will they recruit much needed staff?
A huge proportion of the hospitality industry relied on 70% of its workers from EU nationals and with the change in legislation, over 300,000 workers returned to their home countries. The new legislation required EU nationals living in the UK, to apply for settled status by the deadline of 30th June 2021. This was on offer to anyone who could prove that they had been in the UK continuously for five years or more before 31 December 2020.
Travel restrictions mean, even with proven settled status, it is unclear how long it will be until those workers can return to the UK, or in fact, given the uncertainty of the current climate, if they even want to. Due to Covid we saw increases in job losses, due to redundancies and the result of businesses folding, in a sector which was already struggling with recruitment issues. In April, around 80% of hospitality firms temporarily stopped trading and 1.4 million workers had been furloughed – the highest proportions of any sector. With the hospitality sector’s talent pool being significantly drained, we now need to look for a solution, and quickly.
The hospitality industry brings billions of pounds to the UK economy every year and after a year of economic uncertainty and recession, the effects of Brexit and Covid on the hospitality workforce is at breaking point and a full recovery is vital. So, businesses must find new ways to entice workers to take up jobs in hospitality once again. The need to make this industry an attractive option for young staff people is paramount to its recovery to ensure skilled and talented people progress through the ranks, and see a long term future in a hospitality career. Employers need to make jobs more attractive to UK workers by improving training, career pathways, pay and working conditions.
Calls for a change in visas
Many people in the hospitality industry believe the government needs to look into adapting visa requirements to accommodate more workers and help boost the recovery of the hospitality industry, although this certainly isn’t a quick fix solution though as legalisation changes are usually long winded. Some MP’s are calling for hospitality to be classed as a shortage industry to allow businesses to hire staff from overseas, with suggestions of a Australian type visa scheme to be introduced to enable the workers who don’t meet a point based system, the ability to work in the UK.
One solution open to the hospitality industry is to take on 16-24 year olds who are in receipt of Universal Credit through the Kickstart scheme, fully funded by the government.
As part of the UK’s recovery strategy, the government have invested £2bn into the Kickstart programme which will fund 6 months of 25 hours per week at the national minimum wage for our youngsters who meet this eligibility criteria. There will also be extra funding to support young people to build their experience and help them move into sustained employment after they have completed their Kickstart Scheme funded job.
Creating new roles for young people with the Kickstart scheme could fill a huge void in the hospitality sector, ensuring jobs for bar staff, waiters, kitchen staff, hotel staff and trainee chefs, to name just a few.
For further information on the effects of Brexit and Covid on the hospitality workforce and how we can assist and advise on the Kickstart scheme, please contact us here.