James O’Brien is the host of a current affairs phone-in discussion weekdays between 10 am and 1 pm on LBC, a radio station that attracts circa 2.7 million listeners every week.
Amidst the myriad of issues facing the country, O’Brien’s Tuesday show dedicated an hour to discussing the people and skills shortages in hospitality. (Thank You)
One of O’Brien’s favourite subjects is Brexit, an ardent opposer to leaving the EU he campaigned against it vehemently. Now, in post-Brexit UK he frequently highlights the true cost of leaving the EU including ending the free movement of people.
O’Brien summarised the predicament facing hospitality post-Brexit eloquently, and can be listened to through the audio file below.
Ending the free movement of people in Europe has come at a time that could not be worse for hospitality. A perfect storm looms this summer, that without a change in government policy will further decimate an industry already severely damaged by the Covid pandemic.
The ingredients making up the recipe for hospitality’s perfect storm…
- EU workers pre-Brexit made up circa 20% of the UK hospitality industry’s workforce.
- 20% of the hospitality industry’s workforce equates to circa 640,000 people.
- Migrants, especially from Europe, are disproportionately likely to be employed in the hospitality sector. The burden of job losses during the pandemic has fallen on non-UK workers and has manifested itself in return migration. People returning to their home country is not shown in unemployment figures, but the jobs remain unfilled.
- The same hospitality people that have left, are now unable to return due to post-Brexit legislation.
- All migrant workers, EU and Non-EU, wanting to work in the UK must earn at least £26,500 a year and have secured a ‘suitable’ job before they enter the UK.
- A study by the UK’s Economic Statistics Centre of Excellence published a few weeks ago, reports migrants leaving the UK in record numbers, with as many as 1.3 million people born outside the UK leaving in the past 12 months. The report described the results as an “unprecedented exodus”.
- How many of the 1.3 million people were employed in hospitality is not available, but evidenced by difficulties experienced in recruiting recently suggests a significant proportion.
Jack Stein, son of chef and restaurateur Rick Stein spoke with James O’Brien on Tuesday and said: “The local recruitment company normally has about 900 chefs on their books, at the moment they’ve got 20. We’ve got 60 adverts (jobs) out there and we know we’re not going to fill them.”
H&C News’ conversations with businesses facing similar issues in recent weeks have escalated, reopening has started outdoors, indoor preparations are underway, and staff shortages are already acute.
The hospitality industry has for as long as I can remember always faced people and skills shortages, but never before one of this magnitude. The industry is pinning its hopes of recovery on a staycation boom this summer, Whitbread said this on Tuesday, after posting losses of £1 billion. And the same is true for small independents and SME’s.
The potential for a boom in staycation’s this summer is welcome respite to the past 13 months, the only question is, where will the workers materialise from to enable it?
I am glad to report that in recent days I have spoken with a great many people in hospitality about this precise issue. Thought leaders and influencers across the hospitality industry, that run some of our biggest and best known businesses, smaller independents, as well as other media. People that care passionately about our industry.
Action to combat the predicament that faces the industry is underway and will be announced here soon.
News from the hospitality and catering industry is also being featured extensively in our Facebook and twitter social media accounts with the opportunity to engage with others in hospitality and share your views.
Hospitality & Catering News: LBC’s James O’Brien highlights the perfect storm heading for hospitality, right now. – 30 April 2021 – LBC’s James O’Brien highlights the perfect storm heading for hospitality, right now.
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