Our managing director, Jonathan Beech spoke to CLH Digital about the huge deficit of workers required in the hospitality sector caused by the pandemic and the challenges of attracting and retaining hospitality talent under the new immigration rules.
Read the full article here.
The deficit is expected to grow in 2022 due to the government’s “keep open” policy. From April to June 2021 there has been a significant increase in the number of job vacancies in hospitality.
Businesses in the hospitality sector are looking to hire, but are struggling to recruit the numbers required as closures caused by the pandemic forced a lot of workers to change careers and many are not returning. Many EEA and Swiss workers have returned overseas to be close to their families or look for other job opportunities. Due to Brexit and a change in the immigration rules they have not been able to return.
There are many EU hospitality workers who failed to secure a status under the EU Settlement Scheme or have stayed outside the UK thus compromising their ability to return for long term working purposes. Those who are not eligible to apply under the EU Settlement Scheme or the family route will need to explore other options.
The government currently recommend the hospitality sector to train domestic workforce rather than try to recruit from outside the UK. It has been mentioned that via the Kickstart Scheme the government are offering generous incentives to employers to recruit, however this does not meet the immediate demand for skilled workforce who often require years of experience to reach the required skill level.
As hospitality has not been granted reprieve under any seasonal worker scheme the only likely option to recruit skilled workforce is to offer them work sponsorship.
Up until December 2020 only specialty and head chefs with high salary qualified for work sponsorship. On 1 December 2020 further jobs have been added to the list of skilled occupations eligible for sponsorship including restaurant and catering establishment managers, wine bar managers, bakers, chefs, bar, kitchen and restaurant floor managers and hotel managers. Unfortunately, waiting and bar staff have not been included.
Migrate UK have experienced high demand for sponsor licences for restaurant chains and independents who have been struggling for months to find suitably qualified staff from the resident labor market.
The fact that businesses are willing to pay much higher salaries than the going rate and the Home Office fees associated with work sponsorship is a great indicator of the acute and urgent problem in the sector.
Despite the challenges including the visa application fees and the need to prove that the English language requirement has been met many hospitality workers still wish to return to the UK to find better opportunities than their home countries can offer.
Therefore, hospitality businesses are recommended to apply for a sponsor licence to enable them to fill skilled vacancies as needed. All sectors holding a licence have a competitive advantage in the recruitment market as once a suitably skilled candidate is identified, it could take as little as three weeks to onboard them.