3 Reasons Catering & Hospitality Is Still Suffering After The Latest Covid Unlocking – Where Have All The Staff Gone?

May, at last, saw the re-opening of indoor dining, allowing some restaurants, bars, pubs and cafes to open for the first time in many months. Monday the 17th of May was an eagerly awaited date but for many, it had been anticipated with bated breath, waiting to see if this latest Lockdown easing would actually go ahead. Thankfully, the planned easing of restrictions happened but not all are out celebrating just yet…

A trend across Catering & Hospitality is being seen and is having a widespread effect on the industry and its many businesses and establishments. Whether large or small, independently-owned, a big restaurant-chain or celebrity-owned establishment,  many have seemingly all been coming up against the same issue and it is being reported that staffing shortages are having a huge impact nationwide. So where have all the staff gone? 


Covid Lockdown Impact Still Lingering

The ‘Hospitality Industry and Covid-19’ paper (UK Parliament  – Commons Library) reported that in 2019 the hospitality sector was responsible for around 3% of the UK’s total economic output and in the three months to September 2020, the 2.38 million jobs in hospitality represented 6.9% of total UK employment. April 2020 compared to February 2020 saw economic output from the sector down 90%, a staggering figure.

Leaping forward to early March this year, the Office for National Statistics reported that only  43% of hospitality businesses were trading compared to 74% across all industries and the sector lost 147,000 workers from January-March 2020 to July-September 2020. These are just some of the losses seen across the industry and sadly numbers will have also continued to grow. The impact of this is being felt far and wide.

It is being reported nationwide that the demand for staff is far outnumbering the people applying or making themselves available for work. Figures suggest more than 1 in 10 UK hospitality workers have left the industry in the last year. For many months of little or no work for many who were previously working within Catering & Hospitality has given people time and space (however unwanted).

Working in Catering & Hospitality has a long-standing reputation of being a demanding career choice – Split-shifts, weekend work, early mornings and late evenings, working seasonal holidays. Lockdown has maybe allowed those previously working within the industry an insight into life without such ‘ties’. People have been afforded time to spend with family, children, friends or for pursuing other interests. All of these things combined have resulted in severe staff shortages and gaps within the workforce. 

The last year has seen many people lose jobs, have hours cut, having to adapt in ways never before thought about but with food outlets, pubs, restaurants now re-opening, weddings, parties and events back on track for the coming months ahead,  the see-saw has now tipped in the other direction and businesses are now trying desperately to find people to work to ensure they can actually trade. For many people, the months of Lockdown, job losses, uncertainty and enforced changes have set about a shift in mindset – having their hand forced to adapt and change has resulted in many industry workers taking a change of direction with many having chosen to leave the seeming instability of the sector.


Furlough Scheme – Stopping Workers From Getting Back to Work?

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme or Furlough as many of us know it is set to continue until the end of September 2021 as announced by Chancellor Rishi Sunak in March’s Budget. It has been reported that around 43%  of the hospitality sector workforce are still on Furlough, however,  with the re-opening of many establishments and businesses and the Prime minister suggesting we are still on track for the final Lockdown easing come next month, more than ever, we are now in need to fill the gaps left in the industry and are at risk of more businesses not being able to open or run to their full potential if staff remain ‘unavailable’.

There is a widespread feeling within the industry that ongoing Furlough payments may be having an impact on people’s desire to get back into the workplace or to look for new employment when there is still an underlying worry that Lockdown may be reinstated and people will be back at ‘square one’.


Brexit Impact on Industry Workforce and Talent Pool

Covid-19, Lockdown, Coronavirus…these have all became headline news and part of our day to day language but before that, the buzzword was ‘Brexit’ and although it has now been some time since it was decided that we would leave the EU, that decision is being cited as an additional contributor to the current staffing shortages across the industry. Caterer.com stated that along with Lockdown and Covid ramifications, Brexit plays its hand in the staffing shortages too, and fears that we will be left with a skills gap as a result. 

 The Office of National Statistics reported that Since March 2020 almost 300,000 hospitality people are thought to have left their jobs and returned to their home countries, with no way of knowing if any will return. We have been left with big gaps in the talent pool that everyone is currently fishing from. With the final Covid unlocking due this month, there is light at the end of the tunnel and hopes that travel to and from the UK will be heading back towards some of its former ‘normality’ but will people choose to return or look elsewhere for work opportunities. How many will have chosen to look outside of the industry after its long closure?

How is the Staffing Gap Going to be Filled?

Many people were forced to re-evaluate ways of working during these long months of Lockdown and the Catering & Hospitality industry is having to follow suit and think about how to make joining their workforce an appealing prospect in such challenging times. The workforce may need to see the continuation in the government’s advancement with the unlocking of the country and kickstarting the economy and to feel some security that closures are not imminent once again.

New initiatives are being launched to encourage people into the industry and ensure new blood comes through the lines; promoting what a rewarding career can be found within the Catering & Hospitality sector. One such initiative, ‘Springboard to 2022’ has seen well-known names from within the Catering & Hospitality industry join up and work collaboratively with an aim to futureproof hospitality by training young people to join the workforce. Their goal is to have 10,000 young people trained and ready for work, in line with the industry’s recovery, by 2022. All brilliant and positive steps but where will the industry be and how will businesses survive without staff between now and then?


Spread the Word

To allow the industry to get back to some normality, we need to get people back into work to allow businesses to trade and get back on their feet. Businesses may need to adapt and evolve and think about how they will appeal to the smaller talent pool whilst the new path forward emerges. 

For all the talented and aspiring catering & Hospitality workers out there in the industry, you’ll be in high demand and hard-fought over and new and exciting opportunities will be out there for the taking. Now’s the time to find the perfect role for you.

Cosy dinners indoors have been great but after such a long hiatus of being able to dine out, meet family and friends, let’s get out and support businesses, make the most of the wonderful and diverse offerings in our local communities..and how lovely not to have to do the washing up too!

Let’s all make 2021 a positive year of change! Come take a look at all of our current opportunities at https://www.26recruitment.co.uk/jobs or call to speak to us on 03330 143031.

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