More than 90,000 EU workers left the UK’s hospitality sector in the last year, new figures have revealed.
Fresh research from jobs site Caterer.com found that three out of five hospitality employers are now receiving record numbers of applications from UK workers.
London was identified as acutely affected by the exodus with the research estimating that the percentage of EU workers pre pandemic was as high as 75 per cent in the city.
There was a net loss of at least 92,800 workers nationally, the research found.
Vacancies on Caterer.com have grown by 342 per cent since the reopening of hospitality earlier this year while there are more than 28,000 vacancies currently being advertised on the site.
It comes after the effective closure of the industry during several lockdowns left many thousands of hospitality staff on furlough or completely without employment.
Businesses have been further hit in recent weeks by staff being instructed to isolate by the NHS Covid app amid the ‘pingdemic’, forcing venues to slash opening hours or close completely.
Kathy Dyball of Caterer.com said it was encouraging to see more UK workers join the sector but said staffing issues needed “more attention from the Government to be able to trade profitably.”
“Talented EU workers remain an essential part of the sector’s success and we join the industry in calling for the Government to urgently make it easier for hospitality talent to return to the UK.
“In the longer term there is work to be done to change perceptions of the industry. Its reputation has suffered due to lockdowns, with job uncertainty added to the list of misconceptions such as low pay and lack of flexibility.”
Staff shortages in the sector have been exacerbated in the past year after staff from overseas left the country because of Brexit and the pandemic.
Bosses have also reported staff members quitting in favour of different careers and lifestyles.
However, Caterer’s research found 67 per cent of employers reporting that workers who took on temporary jobs in other sectors while furloughed during lockdowns have returned to the sector.
“Almost 18 months of severely restricted trading and enforced closure means a significant number of workers have left the sector, resulting in an acute staffing shortage. This issue has been compounded by the fact that many foreign workers who returned home during the lockdowns now find themselves abroad but unable to return to the UK,” UKHospitality CEO Kate Nicholls said.