Beware of the workforce gap

THE UK hospitality industry could face a 60,000 staff shortfall if EU migration is halted post-Brexit, a report commissioned by the British Hospitality Association (BHA) has warned.

• A post-Brexit shortage of staff could be a major issue for the industry.

The research by KPMG shows that if migration fell to zero post-Brexit (from 2019), the labour gap would widen to one million within ten years (2029). The report also found that 75% of waiting staff, 25% of chefs, and 37% of housekeeping staff are from the EU.

The UK’s hospitality industry was said to employ three million people overall.

Speaking to SLTN, Willie Macleod, executive director, Scotland, at the BHA, said there is a “high reliance on non-indigenous labour” in the hospitality sector, with 18% of the Scottish sector’s workforce non-UK workers.

He said the BHA has called for a ‘transitional period’ of ten years to allow the sector to adjust to the recruitment challenges that lie ahead, post-Brexit.

“To support growth, we need 60,000, or thereabouts, new staff – and this is new staff into the industry each year to support growth,” said Macleod.

Delivered last week to both the UK and Scottish governments, the report outlines the BHA’s ten-year strategy for recruiting a higher proportion of its future workforce from the UK.

Ufi Ibrahim, chief executive of the BHA, said the association wants “to avoid there being any cliff edge” but that the government “must be aware that in the medium to long term we will still need considerable numbers of EU workers”.

“It is clear from the KPMG report that hospitality and tourism face major problems in recruitment if there is any major cut in the number of workers allowed to enter from the EU,” she said.

“We have submitted our strategy to Number 10 Downing Street because we are aware of our responsibility to encourage more UK nationals to see the career opportunities available in hospitality and tourism.

“We do need the government to play their part too, by recognising our employment needs and recognising how important this industry, the fourth largest, is to the country.”