Since 2006 there has been a steep decline in the number of hospitality roles being filled - but why? One reason is the industry is growing so rapidly, that the Hospitality and Tourism Industry estimates there will be a need for 60,000 new workers each year. We take a look at the current state of hospitality jobs and try to understand exactly why the current crisis exists and what needs to be done to address it.
How many people are we talking?
One workforce development charity, People 1st, estimate that by 2024 the UK will need to recruit 1.3 million workers into the hospitality industry with over 900,000 people needed to replace unhappy staff who’ve left the industry, which is why many hotels and companies encourage staff retention and are working on increasing wages to help keep skilled workers in the job.
Furthermore, the fear of the repercussions of Brexit doesn’t help. No one really knows what will happen, but nearly one quarter of the hospitality industry workforce is made up of EU workers and other overseas workers with as high as 75% of UK waitstaff workers originating from the EU.
Will UK industries lose those workers, bringing about an even greater shortage? Or will immigrant workers have to prove their skill level in a points-based system as for other sectors? If so, can hospitality afford it? Companies speculate that perhaps only chefs will fall under this “tier 2” occupation as a “skilled labourer,” but in order to stay in the UK, they’d have to be paid at least £35,000 per year when the current chef average is under £18,000 per annum.
How can the industry attract new talent?
To keep workers in hospitality, and to attract new workers, the industry will have to step up its game by increasing wages, encouraging employee retention through incentive programs and positive workplace culture, and, perhaps, look for alternative - yet willing - sources of labour such as retirees or the disabled.
By 2020, one third of the British population will be over 50, so older generations may be an untapped market. Plus, with pension age being raised to 66 by then, those who are 50 will still have more than a decade left to work.
In its current landscape, 48% of the hospitality workforce is under age 29 compared with 18% in other sectors, so with demographic shifts (and those even younger on the decline), the hospitality industry will have to rethink its sources.
Is it really something to worry about?
The truth is, however, that staff shortages in hospitality are nothing new. Sure, it seems more dire than usual, but there have been shortages for years, even going back to the war years.
The underlying cause of these shortages may not simply be a case of not having enough bodies to fill the roles, but may instead stem from lower wages, long hours, staff treatment, and lack of hands on training and opportunities for skilled professionals. A benefit of this industry, though, is its flexible working hours, and shift patterns that may suit workers with schedules that wouldn’t align with a typical 9-5 - if work-life balance was emphasised, of course.
By next year, who knows if you’ll be waiting longer at restaurants or positions at hotels will be eliminated due to staff shortages, but either way, it’ll most likely be life as usual and changes will happen so gradually they’ll barely be perceptible - or be seen as business as usual. So, before you worry about longer lines at the lunch counter, consider how you can make the day of someone in the hospitality industry a little brighter with a smile.
Keep your hospitality staff safe on the job
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Make sure your hospitality workers don’t have to miss days at work - causing more crisis.
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