This is a copy of the letter sent to The Director of the Mid Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce on April 16th, explaining my concerns about the lack of Staff in the Hospitality Sector, weeks before the Media started to notice this issue.
I am not here to take credit for that, I am here to ask some real help from the Government and the Immigration Committee Office, to Pro-Actively do something to sort this issue, before plenty of Hospitality Businesses will have to close for lack of Staff!!!!
It has been a really Challenging year for all of us, and it has hit the Hospitality Industry extremely hard, now that we start to see the light at the end of the tunnel, we are getting pulled back by the problem that Brexit and the Pandemic have caused combined!!
Mid Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce 16th April 2021
I have always worked within the hospitality industry, both in Europe and the UK, and I set up my company, Ho.Re.Ca. The Hospitality Experts to help restaurants, pizzerias, cafés, bars and hotels with their recruitment, consultancy and business needs.
The business I am delighted to say was doing very well but when Brexit was finalised it unfortunately hit every area of the industry hard, my business included. Then came the pandemic, which brought with it the unprecedented endurance of various lockdowns which has thrown our beloved industry into freefall; who knew that we would still be reeling from the effects over 12 months on?
Tragically, lockdown has driven people back to their own countries to wait out the pandemic and therefore, they have missed out on job opportunities. For example, there has been a boom of pizzeria’s opening during lockdown, but many experienced Pizza Chefs who went back to Italy to be with their families will now find it extremely difficult to return, so this poses a question “how is the hospitality industry supposed to replace them, because countrywide there is a definite lack of qualified hospitality workers to choose from?” The answer is quite simply, “they won’t”.
Brexit, and the new rules for the European community, has made it difficult to find staff (especially now that ‘Chef’ has been removed from the Occupation code list) because many wanting to work in hospitality are mainly from European countries, and with the sponsor system and the 70-point scheme, it will be extremely difficult and time consuming for employers to recruit experienced staff from other countries plus the same goes for those who want to work and live in the UK. It is my understanding that an employer must apply for a licence to become a sponsor, in advance, and guarantee to pay a salary over £23,040 to get 10 points and £25,600 to get 20 points. The skilled worker on the other hand, wanting to apply for the vacancy, must be able to speak, read, write, and understand English, and can apply for a visa 3 months before the day they are due to start, but once the application has been submitted it can take 3 weeks or more to get a decision.
How does this help the employer, and the UK economy, if they are looking to fill a vacancy and have to wait months not only for their sponsorship to be accepted but also for the individual to get their visa accepted whilst in the meantime, they haven’t a substitute to fill the gap, resulting in lost revenue which will surely hurt their business?
Even though the industry has now been allowed to open in part, it is a sad fact there is still no real help in sight from local councils or the UK government. I do not need to remind you that the UK hospitality industry is responsible for around 3 million jobs, generating £130 billion in activity, resulting in £38 billion in taxation, yet, unlike the Arts or Sports, and an online petition being signed by over 200,000 people, we still do not have a dedicated Minister for Hospitality.
It is well-known in the UK that hospitality jobs are not taken seriously and looked upon as a ‘stop-gap’, or ‘something to do’ at weekends to earn some extra money, with workers having no intention of making it a long-term career. So, with the restrictions now in place to recruit from Europe, there needs to be more incentive and training for people living in the UK to want to work and more importantly, make a career in hospitality if the industry is to get back to what it once was.
In conclusion, I fear that going forward there will be many, many restaurants, bars, and hotels etc., that will struggle to employ experienced and qualified people and will have to close their doors for the last time.
So, before that happens, please help because help is needed, and needed fast…!