Eastern Europeans fill UK hospitality jobs

08 March 2007
Eastern Europeans fill UK hospitality jobs

More than 100,000 people from Eastern Europe have registered to work in the UK hospitality industry since the eight former communist countries joined the EU in May 2004.

According to Home Office figures released last week, more than 111,000 workers have been employed in hospitality, making up 20% of all Eastern European migrants in the UK.

By far the biggest number were Poles, at 64% of the total in hospitality, followed by Slovakians (12%) and Lithuanians (8%).

Martin Couchman, deputy chief executive of the British Hospitality Association, said that while the figures seemed to represent the number of people joining the industry, they did not show who had left.

"People may leave the industry or even move to another country and the figures give no insight into this," he said. "Furthermore the figures might also not be as accurate as they seem, as not everyone coming to work in the country registers."

More than a quarter (28%) of those working in hospitality were employed in London, making up 44% of all Eastern European workers in the capital.

The biggest proportion of Eastern European workers had jobs as kitchen or catering assistants (28%), with waiting staff (18%) and hotel room attendants (16%) ahead of bar staff (6%) and chefs (5%).

Couchman said he welcomed the influx of Eastern Europeans coming to work in hospitality, adding that it had given the industry a boost and reduced staff shortages.

"Eastern European workers tend to be very well educated and hard workers with great people skills - and we're lucky to have them," he said."However, how long they will stay remains to be seen."

A recent survey by the Institute of Directors found that 60% of UK employers saw migrant workers as harder working, more reliable and better skilled than natives.

View more news on skills here >>

By Kerstin Kühn

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