Jobcentres ordered to launch recruitment drive to tackle shortage

Jobcentres are ordered to launch a recruitment drive to tackle 190,000-worker shortage in the hospitality sector

  • Coaches from Jobcentre Plus will be running sessions on the hospitality sector 
  • It comes after UK Hospitality found there were around 188,000 vacancies
  • UK Hospitality and the Department for Work & Pensions have now teamed up
  • The sessions are expected to encourage those in need of work into the sector 

Jobcentres have launched a hiring drive to try to tackle the 188,000-worker shortage in the hospitality sector. 

Work coaches from Jobcentre Plus will be running sessions on working in hospitality in every region of England, as well as across Scotland and Wales. 

UK Hospitality (UKH) and the Department for Work & Pensions (DWP) teamed up to face the rising crisis. 

It comes after the UKH analysis found a vacancy rate in the hospitality industry of nine per cent – equal to around 188,000 jobs.

It found 80 per cent of the businesses surveyed had vacancies for front of house positions, meaning waiting and bar staff, while 85 per cent were looking for chefs. 

Minister for Employment, Mims Davies MP, said: ‘It’s been a challenging time for the hospitality sector but our roadmap is giving employers the confidence to hire, and our brilliant Work Coaches are helping them recruit local talent.’

Workers enjoy drinks in a pub near Leadenhall Market in the square mile on May 18, 2021 in London as workers returned to the capital

Work coaches from Jobcentre Plus will be running sessions on working in hospitality in every region of England, as well as across Scotland and Wales (file image)

He added: ‘At the same time, our Plan for Jobs is levelling up opportunity across the UK, supporting workers of all ages to retrain, build new skills, and get back into work as we push to build back better.’

Wetherspoon founder Tim Martin called for a ‘reasonably liberal immigration system’ to help fill jobs yesterday.

Mr Martin wants the Prime Minister to set up a visa scheme to allow workers from EU countries to easily come back and work in the UK.

He has clarified the JD Wetherspoon group is not currently suffering from staff shortages.  

Meanwhile, the boss of Best Western, Rob Paterson, revealed some of its hotels have not been able to open to full capacity because there aren’t enough cleaners. 

Workers either returned to the EU during lockdown or have been happily ‘sitting on furlough’ and earning 80 per cent of their pay while enjoying the sunshine, according to a Chamber of Commerce chief.

Wetherspoon boss Tim Martin urged Boris Johnson (pictured together in 2019) to impose a ‘reasonably liberal immigration system’ to help fill jobs

Suzanne Caldwell, managing director of the Chamber of Commerce in Cumbria, said other workers ‘are just not here’ after returning to families in the EU when their job security plummeted because of frequent lockdowns.  

One recruitment agency saw 75,000 roles added to their roster in the month of May alone as the beleaguered sector searched for workers to keep up with rising demand.

James Reed, of REED recruitment, yesterday told BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme ‘as long as furlough is paying out it’s going to be harder to recruit workers’.

He added 30 per cent of workers pre-pandemic were over the age of 50, with many since making the decision to retire. 

‘The pandemic has caused a lot of older workers to retire or reduce their hours. We’ve seen a lot of those people leave the workforce,’ he said.

‘I suppose it’s important to encourage them back and we have also got a lot of people still on furlough as the statistics suggest.’   

Kate Nicholls, CEO of UKH, said: ‘We’re delighted to be working with the government to restore confidence in a sector which is a stable employer for millions of skilled and unskilled workers across a wide range of diverse roles, and which can play a constructive role in tackling unemployment.’

Where have all the waiters gone? Home! Exodus of EU waiters and baristas left hospitality bosses battling to fill 355,000 roles

Britain’s jobs crisis has been sparked by staff moving into retail, making the most of furlough or heading back to their home countries in Europe. 

Some restaurant bosses told MailOnline furloughed staff left to get a better-paid job at an agency, while another said he had not had a single response to an advert for a bar worker on a salary of £22,000 a year.

Those trying for a job in hospitality said they were grateful for the ‘abundance’ of jobs available at the moment, but bosses have ‘concern’ about the exodus of Eastern European workers following the pandemic and post-Brexit.

Among the chains facing a big recruitment effort is Pizza Express which needed to hire 1,000 staff to join its 360 sites across the UK before indoor hospitality returned on May 17. 

Many workers from Eastern Europe are said to have gone back to their home country before the third Covid-19 lockdown with no reason to return to Britain because much of the hospitality industry has remained closed since. 

A hospitality worker speaks to a diner as a group sit at a table outside a bar in the City of London

Data from hospitality software provider Fourth also revealed 35 per cent of new starters in the first three months of 2021 were from the EU, which was a significant drop from 49 per cent in the first quarter two years ago. 

The overall workforce headcount is also still down 28 per cent compared to shortly after the pandemic began in April 2020, and the number of hours worked across the sector this month was at 72 per cent of the level last July.

The research, based on analysis of more than 700 firms, also found staff aged 18 to 21 made up just 4 per cent of all hours worked last month, compared to 10 per cent in March 2019 – suggesting younger people are working less.

Kate Nicholls, chief executive of industry body UKHospitality, said there were ‘two elements’ to the recruitment crisis and pointed out that it was being felt differently across the country as the lockdown is eased.

She told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘One is that sadly we were unable to furlough a lot of staff during the course of last year, so companies are trying to recruit in what is a difficult market.

‘Clearly hospitality is at the back of the queue for reopening and still with a large amount of uncertainty hanging over it because of the restrictions, and uncertainty around when those restrictions will be lifted.

People eat and drink while sitting at tables outside a restaurant at lunchtime in the City of London

‘That’s hampering our ability to attract staff because the industry is still seen slightly as being at risk and potentially closing again or having severe restrictions which mean we can’t offer people full-time roles.

‘Secondly there is the challenge when we come to bring people back off furlough; 15 per cent of our staff who are coming off furlough are saying that they’re not wanting to take a role back into the companies themselves.’

Ms Nicholls said one of the primary reasons for this was foreign workers who had returned home either before the Covid-19 crisis began or around Christmas and had since been unable to return to the UK because of travel restrictions.

She continued: ‘You’ve also got students who make up a large proportion of our seasonal workforce, and we are due to be going into our peak season, who are in the wrong place at the wrong time.

‘And then sadly we’ve had people who have been on furlough and have taken a job in another sector, and are now saying they don’t want to return to hospitality.

‘So all of that is creating a crunch point at the point at which we’re looking to return – previously employed staff not returning from furlough, and then the challenge of recruitment in an uncertain market.’   

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