Brexit: Thousands of EU workers have left hospitality jobs in the past year, report says

More Britons are entering the hospitality sector than ever before

Celine Wadhera
Wednesday 04 August 2021 23:46
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<p>More than 90,000 EU workers left the UK's hospitality sector in the last year</p>

More than 90,000 EU workers left the UK's hospitality sector in the last year

More than 90,000 workers left the UK’s hospitality sector over the past year, a new report has revealed.

Due to Brexit and the pandemic, many EU hospitality workers have either chosen to leave the country or been forced to due to new visa income requirements. Others have simply left the field to find employment elsewhere, as restaurants, bars and other hospitality venues were closed during coronavirus lockdowns.

Now, more Britons are entering the hospitality field with as many as three out of five employers in the sector receiving more applications from UK workers than ever before, a report from Caterer.com has found.

The jobs site discovered that vacancies had grown by 342 per cent since hospitality venues were allowed to reopen as Covid restrictions were lifted. It also revealed that there are currently more than 28,000 vacancies advertised on the site.

The report also suggested that some areas would be particularly hard hit by the loss of EU workers – prior to the pandemic, it estimates that up to 75 per cent of London’s hospitality workers were from the EU.

Kathy Dyball, marketing manager at Caterer.com said that while it was “encouraging” that more UK workers were entering the field, EU workers are critical to the hospitality sector’s success.

“It’s encouraging to see more UK workers entering the industry as people see the valuable, long-term employment opportunities hospitality can offer,” she said.

“However, talented EU workers remain an essential part of the sector’s success and we join the industry in calling for the Government to urgently make it easier for hospitality talent to return to the UK.”

She added that staff shortages in the industry had been exacerbated by the “pingdemic” with staff being told to self-isolate with no notice.

“Yet again this is a case of the sector needing more attention from the government to be able to trade properly,” she said.

“In the longer term, there is work to be done to change perceptions of the industry. Its reputation has suffered due to lockdowns, with job uncertainty added to the list of misconceptions such as low pay and lack of flexibility.”

Sacha Lord, Greater Manchester’s night time economy adviser said that the vacancies in the hospitality industry “were on a scale that is difficult to comprehend”.

“There are over 2,500 hospitality vacancies right now across Greater Manchester,” he said, adding that many venues were closing midweek as they have been unable to open full-time due to staffing shortages.

“Not only has the workforce been decimated by Brexit and the introduction of salary-threshold visas, but the enforced closures during Covid lockdowns have forced staff the industry and retrain, or seek higher wages elsewhere.”

He added: “As we rebuild, we can’t now expect the youngest and hardest hit by the pandemic to be satisfied with minimum wage roles, when they can earn higher salaries elsewhere in office or retail.”

While the field of hospitality is varied and includes everything from restaurants and bars to lodging, event planning and tourism, career website Totaljobs found that the average salary for bar staff is around £19,000 per year.

Under the new skilled worker visa scheme, applicants from EU and non-EU countries must be paid a salary of £25,600 or higher, which is likely out of range for many who work in the hospitality sector.

The new guidance states: “There is no general route for employers to recruit at or near the minimum wage”.

The caterer.com report comes after data released last month found that the proportion of British workers in the hospitality sector rose to 51 per cent, up from 46 per cent two years ago, and 67 per cent of all new starters in the sector in June were British. EU citizens made up only 28 per cent of new starters, compared with 50 per cent in January 2019.

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