EU worker numbers drop further across hospitality as Brits fill more roles

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

EU worker numbers drop further across hospitality as Brits fill more roles

Related tags: brexit, Staff

The number of EU workers in hospitality is continuing to fall, according to the latest figures from Fourth, with Brits now making up more than half of the sector's workforce.

The new data, aggregated from the analysis of more than 700 companies across the restaurant, pub, bar and hotel sectors, reveals that EU workers currently make up 32% of the hospitality workforce, compared to 42% in October 2019.

British workers currently make up 53% of the workforce, compared to 46% in October 2019; while workers from non-EU countries currently make up 15% of the workforce, compared to 11% in October 2019.

The proportion of EU workers has been consistently declining​ since the UK formally left the European Union in January 2020, which was closely followed by the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic just two months later.

Fourth observes that these latest workforce trends are occurring across all sub-sectors of the industry, particularly over the last six months back to April when Covid-19 trading restrictions began to ease.

The restaurant sector has experienced the biggest shift, with British workers currently making up 46% of the total workforce, compared to 40% six months ago in April. The proportion of EU restaurant workers has dropped from 47% in April to 39% now.

This is closely followed by the pub sector, where British workers currently make up 73% of the workforce, increasing from 68% in April. This has been offset by a decline in workers from the EU, as they represent just 20% of the workforce now, compared to 28% in April.

The hotel sector has experienced the smallest shift over the six-month period, likely because the sector hasn’t been able to bounce-back as quickly as restaurants and pubs due to strict travel restrictions remaining in place for longer periods. The proportion of British hotel workers has still grown from 57% in April to 60% currently; the number of EU workers has dropped from 28% to 24%.

“Given the current climate, where labour shortages are continuing to prove incredibly challenging for operators, it’s clear there is a war for talent taking place in the hospitality sector," says Sebastien Sepierre, managing director – EMEA, Fourth.

"Vacancy rates are running at record levels and it’s evident the pool of EU workers has significantly reduced.

"Technology and digital solutions play an important role in navigating these waters, helping operators hire, onboard, engage and retain team members. Businesses will ultimately have to be smart with their labour scheduling strategies to ensure consumer demand continues to be met and the guest experience doesn’t suffer.”

Fourth’s data indicates that total staff headcount across the hospitality sector remains stable, tracking at the same level as this time last year (but down 18% on 2019), and has been growing consistently month-on-month since March.

The size of the workforce grew marginally by 0.3% in September compared to August as operators upped their recruitment efforts. 

Related topics: Trends & Reports

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