It follows the publication of a report by HR body CIPD, which found the overall number of non-UK-born workers employed in the country fell 58,000 in the year to June 2018.
This is compared to a rise of 263,000 seen over the twelve months to June 2017.
The British Hospitality Association (BHA), now part of UKHospitality, estimated in 2017 that 700,000 EU migrants worked in UK restaurants, pubs, hotels and catering.
That same year a KPMG study found that around 75% of UK waiters and waitresses, 25% of chefs and 37% of housekeeping staff were EU migrants.
UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls says the CIPD figures make for “alarming reading”.
“[The] worrying reality is that numbers of non-UK workers are dwindling, and we haven’t even left the EU yet,” she says.
“If the talent pool continues to shrink, then businesses will be unable to invest and grow their businesses.”
Nicholls also criticised the Government’s proposed post-Brexit immigration plan to prioritise ‘high skilled’ workers, who usually need to have a job offer earning at least £30,000.
“Restricting potential applicants into the hospitality sector further, when the number of non-UK born workers is already shrinking, will be a disaster for the sector,” says Nicholls.
Industry rallies round
Last week a group of restaurant industry figures, including Trevor Gulliver, Rick Stein, Ruth Rogers and Gary Usher, signed a letter calling on their colleagues in the sector to write to their MPs in support of a second Brexit vote.
“The threat posed by barriers slamming down after Brexit on the huge pool of European talent upon which our industry relies cannot be underestimated,” the letter reads.
“We feel strongly that we need to be more active in making the case to retain freedom of movement.”
To view the letter, click here.