Will hospitality still see a shortage of skills?​

This question is as relevant now coming out of the lockdown as it was four years ago when Brexit was voted in. In 2016, EU nationals represented between 12% to 24% of the workforce in the hospitality sector but varied a lot depending on the regions. In London, 43% of the staff were Europeans (more than 60% in the South West of the country).

These are important statistics to take into account especially when hospitality, leisure and tourism sectors are some of the largest employers of the country and contribute to £126.9 billion (data from 2013) of UK GDP.

A predominantly European workforce

With those sectors relying mainly on European workers, the shortage of staff should be a priority in Brexit negotiations.

In 2016, when Brexit was voted for by the people, Andrea Wareham, Head of People at Pret A Manger, expressed her concerns to Parliament explaining that with 1 in 50 applicants actually being British nationals, the group feared that they wouldn't be able to fill vacant positions. At Brigad, 25% of the independent professionals working through the platform are UK nationals, 61% are from European countries and 14% are from other countries.

In an article published in 2017 in the Independent, Wareham suggests that the solution doesn’t necessarily lie in increasing salaries “I actually don’t think increasing pay would do the trick…: […] “We are not seen always as a desirable place to work and I think that’s the trick”.

Hospitality is no longer an attractive industry for UK nationals

Brigad conducted a study in 2020 and found that more than 30% of hospitality workers want to leave the industry citing three main reasons:

  • Poor work/life balance
  • Salary
  • No career progression

This leads to a high turnover and poor retention, resulting in a shortage of skilled workers.

How do we attract and retain people in the industry?

In a survey conducted by Brigad in March 2020, more than 87% of respondents (all from hospitality) say that the flexibility that one can have with freelancing has improved their happiness, which in turn, keeps them in the industry.

The opportunity to work with more flexibility is one of the top 3 factors that bring people happiness in the hospitality sector. It comes right after meeting people from different places, and before the possibility to work in different locations.

At Brigad, we are convinced that freelancing will eventually compensate for the loss of workers in the hospitality industry, thanks to:

  • More control over working hours - the opportunity to choose when and where they work will enable millions of people to find a better work-life balance.
  • Fairer pay - overtime will always be paid when working using Brigad.
  • Recognition and career evolution - the ability to work in different types of venues with a variety of professionals exponentially evolve an individual's skillset

Even if the number of redundancies over the last months has resulted in a short-term surge in supply, operators should hold the government accountable to ensure we end up with a constant supply of skilled workers.

📍Moreover, individual businesses should consider the following factors to improve retention:

  • What can I do to promote a better work-life balance?
  • How can I improve my overall package to insure well-being?
  • Do I reward and recognise employees for their work and do I have a clear progression career path marked down?
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