200,000 international workers have left hospitality, report reveals

17 August 2022 by
200,000 international workers have left hospitality, report reveals

The UK hospitality industry has lost 200,000 international workers since 2019, according to a report from Caterer.com.

It revealed that as many as 120,000 European workers have now left the sector, compared to 90,000 EU drop-outs last year. More than 70,000 workers from non-EU countries have also left the industry.

In recent months, some operators have turned to hiring overseas staff in an effort to combat rising staff shortages, with Boutique Hotel Group taking on five chefs from India after struggling to recruit.

Chefs are eligible for a Skilled Worker Visa as a result of changes made by the UK government.

However, the report, which surveyed 250 hospitality employers across the country, indicated that the majority of operators are still reluctant to hire internationally, even though two in five (43%) of businesses have had to reduce operations following prolonged staff shortages.

While 61% of hospitality employers are registered to hire international staff, immigration policies are discouraging 89% from hiring overseas. Part of the hesitance is due to the lack of visa availability (42%), changing guidelines from the government (38%) and associated visa costs (34%).

The report also indicated a general lack of awareness on the subject, with over a quarter (27%) of hospitality operators saying they would not know how to sponsor an international worker.

Since Brexit and the pandemic, the make-up of the industry has changed significantly, with a 25% increase in local candidates seeking jobs in hospitality.

Kathy Dyball, director at Caterer.com, said: "The hospitality sector is experiencing a sustained and severe labour crisis which is impacting its ability to thrive and limiting its potential contribution to the UK economy. Making chefs eligible for Skilled Worker status was a good start, however our report suggests this is yet to have a significant impact and highlights that the immigration system is unclear, with employers facing barriers when it comes to hiring overseas.

"However, it's great to see an increase in homegrown talent entering the sector, and it's now vital to continue to drive this by tapping into different talent pools throughout the UK."

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