Sussex hotel bosses struggle to find workers Brighton News

The tourism and hospitality industry is facing a recruitment crisis, writes Nick Mosley.

The UK Tourism Alliance announced the results of a national employment survey.

And as the country emerges from lockdown, hospitality and tourism bosses across the country, including Brighton, are reporting significant problems in recruiting and retaining staff.

According to research by the Tourism Alliance, based on 500 national employers of all sizes, 46% of businesses have fewer staff than before Covid, with just 18% reporting having all the staff they need.

This even though 30% of companies have reduced their commercial capacities, their services or their hours due to lack of personnel.

Many companies have to offer higher salaries to recruit new employees and retain their current employees.

“Despite restrictions such as social distancing and capacity reducing the financial viability of businesses, 34% of all operators say they need to increase wages in order to attract staff,” said Kurt Janson of the UK Tourism Alliance .

Brighton’s Palace Pier is one of the South Coast’s largest tourism employers.

Executive Director Anne Ackord said staffing has become the attraction’s biggest challenge.

“There is a shortage of staff and it is crippling,” she said.

“We offer packages that increase staff salaries, but it has to be a competency-based incentive pay: the more you learn, the more you earn.

“Simply paying higher wages to attract people is a dead end if there is no career path allied to improving skills and – most importantly – recognizing those skills. ”

Business groups including UK Hospitality – the national trade body for restaurants and hotels – say Covid has dramatically worsened the impact of Brexit.

With the closure of hospitality and tourism businesses – and a significant number of businesses unwilling to use the government leave scheme for low-paid workers – a significant number of those previously working in the industry have returned to the industry. ‘EU to move closer to the security of their homes. countries.

In a turnaround, Brexit-friendly Wetherspoons boss Tim Martin was quoted in the Daily Telegraph as saying he wanted to see a more ‘liberal’ visa regime for workers in order to deal with understaffing countries neighbors being treated in a preferential manner. The problem now is that EU workers no longer have the right to live and work in the UK, leaving a gaping hole in the contemporary workforce.

The UK’s new immigration criteria state that in order to get a general work visa, an employee must have an annual salary of at least £ 25,000 and be sponsored by a licensed organization for up to six years. While the industry offers flexible working and an engaging work environment that is particularly attractive to young people, entry wages are often lower than in other sectors of the economy and individuals regularly change companies as they move forward. as their career progresses.

Anne said: “Our industry is not considered ‘skilled’.

“It is not easy to have EU employees that we relied on in the past because there is no visa.

“The British do not see the hospitality industry as a career and although we, the industry, must play our part to change that image, we need the support of the government to enable us to access other sources of staff. . ”

Some 35 percent of businesses say they need to hire people who don’t have the skills their business needs.

This will affect not only employers but also consumers who have come to expect a certain level of service at a certain price. Ultimately, the higher wage costs for employers will be passed on to clients.

“For too long, the hospitality industry has been seen as something to tap into during school holidays or a work visa,” said Gavin Stewart, managing director of the Brighton Business Improvement District, which represents many retail and hospitality companies. .

“The truth is, there are solid career paths where individuals can showcase their skills and really shine.

“From customer service to the CEO level, the hospitality industry is the people industry. The sooner the government invests in the power of well-trained individuals, which are essential for businesses to secure return bookings, the sooner the whole industry can rise up and be a real win-win for the government. UK. ”

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This notice was published: 2021-06-09 15:36:28

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