Restaurant and pub bosses have pleaded for ‘easy visas’ to help fill vacancies as they desperately try to recruit enough staff to keep the doors open.
Patrick Dardis, CEO of London-based pub group Young’s told City A.M. yesterday that the UK needed to open up the job market to the EU to increase the labour pool for venues.
And UK Hospitality boss Kate Nicholls said the sector’s recovery would “falter” without the introduction of temporary visas for staff.
It is the latest sector to cry for exemptions to fill front-line staffing roles amidst a widespread labour shortage that has affected everything from petrol stations to turkey farming.
Venues have been forced to slash hours or shut completely with vacancies for chefs and door supervisors especially hard to fill.
The government has said it wanted bosses to make “long term investments” in the UK workforce rather than relying on overseas labour.
“The government encourages all sectors to make employment more attractive to UK domestic workers through offering training, career options, wage increases and investment,” a Home Office spokesperson said.
However, bosses aren’t convinced. Nicholls said measures like boosting wages and benefits would not be enough to fill the labour gaps on their own.
And economists fear widespread wage increases could fan the flames of runaway inflation.
Nicholls added: “It’s crucial that the government looks to provide ongoing support for the sector, by ensuring that existing initiatives such as the Kickstart scheme are functioning effectively, as well as working with businesses to get more people into apprenticeships and training.”
Charles Tyler, general manager at Southwark restaurant Paladar called for “easy visas” for chefs and wait staff, after workers fled London last year because of Brexit and the pandemic.
“It’s all very well for the government to say we need to home grow our staff and train them – that takes years. We need a fast solution for this.”
“I’m not saying British people are not good workers but we need more,” he explained.
It comes after London’s Parisian-style restaurant Soutine was forced to shut this month due to a “critical staff shortage”, with hopes of reopening mid-October.
Hospitality firms posted 69 per cent more job listings in August this year, compared to January, after venues were finally freed from Covid-19 restrictions this summer.
However, there was a 65 per cent decrease in the number of applicants per role, according to recruitment software business, Occupop.
There were 660,000 hospitality sector job losses in 2020, with 300,000 overseas workers leaving the UK.