Lifting restrictions on hospitality sees record job losses and record job vacancies simultaneously

Pre-pandemic the hospitality industry employed 3.2 million people. This month the Office for National Statistics shows that figure as 1.8 million, a contraction of 1.4 million or -44%.

If more than a million people that worked in hospitality pre-pandemic are now not, why is the ONS showing there are currently 117,000 job vacancies in hospitality?

ONS figures researched in partnership with ESCoE also show at least 355,000 people that worked in hospitality pre-pandemic were forced during the pandemic to leave the UK under Brexit legislation.

The so called ‘pingdemic’ did impact but has diminished, and in the past month as those people returned to work job vacancies continued to increase.

Exactly a month ago to the day all Covid restrictions were lifted, businesses reopened, customers came back, and the attempt to operate without a full team proved futile. Businesses were forced to limit trading and ‘freedom day’ transpired to be nothing of the sort as job vacancies continued to rise.

Why would vacancies rise as business reopened? The vacancies are open to skilled and experienced people, the sort of people that Brexit dispelled.

The exact same people trained as HGV drivers, also ‘sent home’ by Brexit, that today is impacting hospitality’s supply chain to such an extent more restaurants are unable to open.

Just as HGV drivers need to be trained so do chefs and many other roles in hospitality, and that takes time. The hospitality industry needs a constant pipeline of people being trained to fill positions in future. But training people for the future does not fill today’s vacancies, and businesses will continue being unable to trade fully as a consequence.

As was recently said by Professor Peter A Jones MBE FIH in conclusion to his writings in – Key historical issues facing hospitality compounded by Covid-19 – “The only short term solution to the diminishing hospitality workforce is through relaxing immigration restrictions on EU nationals.”

Enabling Professor Jones’ conclusion is an opportunity presented to hospitality through asking government to: “Ease immigration restrictions on EU nationals and other migrant workers with experience of working in the UK hospitality industry, at least temporarily, immediately. This could be achieved by creating a new hospitality visa, or exempting non-UK nationals with relevant experience from immigration requirements.”


Filed Under: EconomyHospitalitycovid-19

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