Hospitality industry in for a ‘bumpy road’ post Brexit says Lincolnshire hotel director

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The hospitality industry has become the first in the UK to present a plan to reduce its dependence on EU workers, however representative bodies and a Lincolnshire hotel director believes that the industry is in for a ‘bumpy road’.

The British Hospitality Association (BHA) has published a report which says that without future EU migration the hospitality sector faces a recruitment crisis.

Upwards of 60,000 workers per year are needed in addition to the ongoing recruitment of 200,000 workers to replace churn.

Labour flows in the hospitality sector

The KPMG report shows 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.

Emma Brealy, Managing Director for Petwood Hotel in Woodhall Spa, said: “It is important that the BHA is shining a spotlight on the difficulties the hospitality and tourism sector will face without future EU migration.

“Although EU workers comprise a small percentage of our team, this is highly unusual for our industry.

“The BHA-commissioned report highlights that the hospitality sector is highly reliant on EU workers, with up to 24% of the sector’s workforce made up of EU migrants.”

The report predicts 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% of GDP.

Some 75% of waiters and waitresses, 25% of chefs and 37% of housekeeping staff are from the EU.

Emma continued: “Without them, we could be in for a very bumpy ride.

“Our insatiable appetite for variety has boosted fantastic growth in the hospitality sector, but this demand is not met by our domestic supply of staff.

“This trend will continue until we have a massive cultural shift in the nation’s perception of our sector.

“On the continent, a career in the hospitality industry is highly respected and an esteemed profession. I wish the same could be said here.

“I heard recently that a 17 year-old aspiring pastry chef was told by her school teacher to ‘leave the baking as a hobby and find a proper job’.

“We should be encouraging our young people that the hospitality sector provides skills, training and a wealth of opportunity – and that to serve is not to be servile.”

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.”