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Brexit and The Hospitality Industry: A post-Brexit Workforce

schedule 9th October 2018 by Virtual College in Food and Drink Last updated on 9th October 2018

Brexit and Hospitality

As the clock ticks down to the UK’s exit from the European Union, Brexit is set to happen regardless of whether a deal is reached with the EU. With a frantic few months ahead, we turn our focus to the catering and hospitality industry and the potential impacts on your business.

We also look at some of the unsung heroes in the industry and some of the recommendations made for recruitment and retention as part of the UK Hospitality Workforce Commission 2030 report.

Hospitality Industry Growth

Since the financial crisis of 2007/08, the hospitality and catering industry has shown growth year on year and UK hotels have enjoyed record trading, underpinned by the boom in overseas travel. Statistics show that the industry has been responsible for creating one in five of all new jobs in the UK since 2010 and is on track to deliver a further 100,000 new jobs by 2020 – taking us beyond the UK’s planned exit at 11 pm on Friday 29 March 2019.

As the industry continues to consider the impact of Brexit on employment, Kate Nichols, CEO of UK Hospitality expects that tourism, “the economic powerhouse of hospitality”, will grow by a whopping £257.4bn by 2025, contributing £40bn in taxes to the exchequer.

Brexit and Hospitality

If the predicted increase in jobs and the surge of tourism is accurate, more than 10% of all UK employment will be within catering and hospitality. However, between 12.3% and 23.7% of UK hospitality workers are EU nationals, raising a number of questions about the impact of Brexit. KPMG estimates the hospitality sector will face a recruitment shortfall of more than 60,000 per year from 2019 – so where will these workers come from? Youth Employment UK has been working together with UK Hospitality to outline a number of recommendations relating to recruitment and retention, skills and workplace learning and diversity.

A Career in Hospitality

Courtney Avery, ambassador for Youth Employment UK highlighted hospitality’s negative reputation and how it is often associated with low-skilled work. Millennials are seeing hospitality as a job, a part time job during studies, and not a full-time career. The industry is faced with the challenge of instilling a better understanding of pathways in the industry and career potential. As a result, UK Hospitality has recommended a cross-industry, national campaign to eliminate the negative perception of catering and hospitality careers.

Another challenge the industry faces is that there is not a level playing feel when it comes to school outreach conducted by varying sectors. Evidence from Youth Employment UK argued for the inclusion of hospitality and catering in the school curriculum and careers advice structures. The UK Hospitality Workforce Commission 2030 report recommends that the industry must work more closely with education providers and the government to allow hospitality businesses to speak directly to children and parents.

Lifelong Learning and Development

The UK Hospitality report states that the Workforce Commission repeatedly heard that the catering and hospitality industry must champion its employees and invest in lifelong learning. We should celebrate the sector’s existing good practice when it comes to training and that ‘on the job’ training is key to meaningful development. As a result, the recommendation is that the industry needs to attract and retain employees via lifelong learning and on-the-job training.

It is clear that with a workforce so reliant on EU nationals that Brexit has helped highlight some issues within the hospitality industry. Virtual College can help by offering expert advice on your learning and development strategy and your catering and hospitality training needs.

To receive more news and insights into the hospitality industry, subscribe to our food and drink newsletter or contact us via to discuss your training needs.

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Author: Virtual College

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