Scottish Hospitality Group calls for four-nations approach to tackle hospitality jobs crisis

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

Scottish Hospitality Group calls for four-nations approach to tackle hospitality jobs crisis Brexit EU visa scheme

Related tags: Recruitment, brexit, Staff

The Scottish Hospitality Group (SHG) is urging Westminster to work with the three devolved nations and introduce a migrant visa scheme to provide hospitality employers with access to workers.

The group, which comprises many of Scotland's largest and best-known restaurant and bar businesses, is warning that the end of furlough in five weeks will not fully address the staffing crisis facing hospitality, and is calling for a four-nations approach to tackle the sector's ongoing jobs crisis.

It comes as latest figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) reveal that job vacancies across the hospitality sector more than doubled​ in the three months to July.

Vacancies in accommodation and food service grew by 73,000, a rise of 163.7% compared to the previous three months.

According to the SHG, hospitality businesses are facing a 20% increase in wage costs due to a shortage of staff.

It also adds that the lack of recruits is preventing businesses from opening to capacity and beginning the long process of lockdown recovery.

“Operators can’t get staff, wage inflation is rampant and all the supply chain problems are combining to act as a brake on our economic recovery," says Stephen Montgomery, SHG spokesperson.

"We should expect to see more people looking for work once furlough ends but it will be too little, too late. The reality is that we need temporary one or two-year visas for EU workers to make sure all businesses can recruit the right talent.  

“Furlough has done its job and needs to end but we still need help as we head into winter.

"There’s a real lack of confidence because hospitality has been the first to close and last to reopen, and people quite rightly don’t want to be responsible for implementing government rules that don’t make any sense. So that’s had the effect of pointing people towards other sectors.” 

Many restaurants struggling with recruitment have cited the impact of new immigration rules introduced as a result of Brexit as a key obstacle.

The proportion of hospitality workers from the EU is at its lowest level since at least 2016, according to recent figures from Fourth​.

“It is incredibly frustrating that after all we’ve been through that we can’t get enough staff to open up our venues to their full capacity or hours," says Nic Wood, SHG member and owner of Signature Group, which operates 21 venues mostly in Edinburgh and Glasgow

"The issues of furlough, lack of staff and supply chain complications are jeopardising hospitality’s ability to try and scrabble back to pre-Covid trade levels.

"We need a visa scheme to plug the employment void that has appeared since Brexit. It’s imperative that the four nations work together to encourage people into the country that want to do these jobs so that the economy has enough staff to get back to pre-Covid levels.” 

Data last month suggested the hospitality sector is facing a shortage of more than 200,000 workers​.

A survey of over 350 businesses operating tens of thousands of venues, carried out jointly by UKHospitality, the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) and The British Institute of Innkeeping (BII), found that 100% of businesses currently have vacancies; mainly front-of-house (84%), non-head chefs (67%) and kitchen porters (36%). A third are experiencing managerial role vacancies.

Related topics: Business & Legislation

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