Hospitality vacancies hit record high as pubs and bars face staff shortages

UK hospitality businesses recorded 83% more vacancies over the three months to May than over the same period in 2019.

Coronavirus – Wed Jul 15, 2020
Coronavirus – Wed Jul 15, 2020

Vacancies in the hospitality sector jumped to a record high last month as businesses face the possibility of staff shortages over the key summer season.

The Office for National Statistics’ latest jobs figures revealed that overall job vacancies rose to a new record of 1.3 million, although there was a further slowdown in the rate of growth.

More than a tenth of these vacancies were in the hospitality sector, which has seen rapid growth in job creation after the easing of pandemic restrictions.

UK hospitality businesses recorded 83% more vacancies over the three months to May than over the same period in 2019, before the pandemic struck.

The figures showed that hospitality currently has 174,000 jobs available, a record high.

It comes despite a decline in the number of economically inactive people who are looking for work, meaning these positions could be increasingly difficult to fill.

UKHospitality chief executive officer Kate Nicholls said: “These figures show that the hospitality industry continues to return to growth and is attracting new people into the workforce.

“However, high vacancy rates are impeding our ability to trade.

“This is particularly concerning as we enter the summer, a key trading period for much of the sector.”

Male waiter carries plates of food to customers in busy outdoor restaurant
The hospitality industry has seen rapid growth in job creation since the end of the pandemic. (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

The industry group boss also called for the Government’s current points-based system for international workers “to be tweaked to make it easier for seasonal and lower skilled workers to enter the workforce” and improvements to the apprenticeship levy.

Retail sector chiefs also called for the apprenticeship levy to be “reformed” to help fill roles in the sector.

It came as the ONS data showed there were 2.95 million retail jobs in the UK over the latest period, representing a 83,000 decline against the same period last year.

Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium (BRC), said: “Retail job numbers fell this quarter as the tightest labour market in decades intensified competition for talent.

“This is doubly true as the hospitality and tourism industries recover from the pandemic.

“Nonetheless, the expansion of digital retail has created many new well-paid and exciting jobs in the industry, which will continue to grow in the future.”

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