Hospitality 'struggling to fill thousands of jobs'

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Waiter cleans tableImage source, Getty Images

Hospitality venues are struggling to fill thousands of job vacancies, according to an industry body.

Waiting staff and chefs are in particular demand as Covid-19 restrictions continue to ease, UK Hospitality said.

It called on the government to stick to its plan to lift all Covid restrictions in England on 21 June.

The government said it was "doing everything we can to support hospitality".

The sector has been has been hit hard by the pandemic, and is also facing shortages due to Brexit, the trade body said.

But even before those restrictions lifted, hospitality venues were struggling to find staff.

UK Hospitality said there was currently a shortfall of about 188,000 workers, with the shortage of front-of-house staff and chefs being "particularly acute".

Under the government's roadmap out of lockdown, all coronavirus restrictions in England could be lifted on 21 June. But in recent days ministers, including Boris Johnson, have warned that could be delayed by an increase in the number of cases of the Indian variant.

'Stick to the roadmap'

UK Hospitality said that uncertainty was one factor in people not going for restaurant jobs.

"The government must restore confidence in the hospitality sector so that it is again seen as a stable employer and provider of fulfilling careers," said Kate Nicholls, the chief executive of UK Hospitality.

"To facilitate this, it must stick to the re-opening roadmap, lifting all restrictions from 21 June. This will restore consumer confidence and give a strong signal to workers that hospitality will bounce back strongly."

Many hospitality businesses have struggled during the pandemic despite extensive government support, including rates holidays and the furlough scheme.

Many hospitality staff have been laid off during the pandemic.

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Brexit has also contributed to staff shortages, especially in city centre venues, as EU workers returned to their home countries, a UK Hospitality spokesperson said.

Overseas workers also returned home at the beginning of the pandemic, and many have not returned due to travel restrictions.

UK Hospitality urged the government to encourage UK-based workers to join the sector.

It also asked for the government to renew its list of shortage occupations and consider a visa scheme for workers who would not qualify under the points-based system.

Training focus

The government is working with the sector to understand the impact on job shortages due to Brexit and the Covid pandemic, a government spokesperson said.

Employers should focus on training the domestic workforce, the spokesperson said, rather than relying on labour from abroad.

The immigration system attracts the "best and brightest talent", the government added.

"We are doing everything we can to support hospitality to recover following the reopening of indoor venues in England earlier this month.

"Our dedicated work coaches are supporting people into work, including in hospitality, and through the Kickstart Scheme we're offering generous incentives to employers to recruit, with hundreds of young people starting work every day."