Hospitality and Tourism industry announces first post-Brexit sector skills strategy

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Hospitality today becomes the first major UK industry to present a plan to reduce its dependence on EU workers. At the same time the British Hospitality Association, the leading industry body, has published a report which says that without future EU migration the hospitality sector faces a recruitment crisis, with upwards of 60,000 workers per year needed in addition to the ongoing recruitment of 200,000 workers required to replace churn and to power growth. The KPMG report says that hospitality and tourism will be affected by restrictions to EU migration more than any other sector.

The BHA has sent the Government an outline 10 year strategy for recruiting a substantially higher proportion of its workforce from the UK but it stresses that it will need continued, but declining, access to the EU workforce over that time.

The strategy focuses on three main sections of the populations – the unemployed, returners to the labour market such as older people, and the next generation. This includes using Premier League clubs as centres for running job fairs under the name The Big Hospitality Conversation. These have already been held successfully at Liverpool’s Anfield stadium, Tottenham’s White Hart Lane and elsewhere.

The immigration report, Labour Migration in the Hospitality Sector, click here to read online, commissioned by the BHA from KPMG,  points out that the hospitality sector is “highly reliant” on EU national workers, with up to 24 per cent of the sector’s workforce made up of EU migrants. It says that the labour shortfall 10 years after Brexit would be 1 million if EU migration fell to zero from 2019

The research for this report focuses on hospitality where currently 3 million people are employed. The BHA also represents tourism and estimates that there are 4.5 million workers employed across hospitality and tourism as a whole, the fourth largest industry in the UK contributing 10 per cent of GDP. The report points out that when taking both hospitality and tourism together, the recruitment gap would be even greater.

The KPMG report says that 75 per cent of waiters and waitresses, 25 per cent of chefs and 37 per cent of housekeeping staff are from the EU.

Ufi Ibrahim, Chief Executive of the British Hospitality Association, said:  “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. We want to avoid there being any cliff edge but the Government must be aware that in the medium to long term we will still need considerable numbers of EU workers, who have contributed so much to our industry and the UK economy in general.

“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. We also look forward to working with the Department for Work and Pensions and Department for Education to implement our strategy as well as the Business Department.”

KPMG report graphic
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