Footballer turned hotel developer Gary Neville said that it is "a scandal" that European hospitality staff are leaving the UK because of Brexit.
Neville, who played for Manchester United and England, was speaking to The Caterer ahead of the forthcoming Hotel Forum, during which he will be interviewed on stage and take questions from the audience.
He said he did not want the current rhetoric to drive away young employees working in hospitality. "I'm concerned that we are starting to see language that is unwelcoming to staff," he explained.
"No one loves working with local people more than I do, but everyone in the hospitality industry here has benefitted from working with staff from abroad, just like I benefitted greatly in my football career from being alongside Cantona, Schmeichel and Ronaldo."
GG Hospitality, the company Neville runs with fellow former footballer Ryan Giggs, launched Hotel Football in 2015 and is currently developing two further hotels in Manchester. A 35-bedroom luxury, boutique hotel will open in the city's former Stock Exchange building next year, while planning permission for a 200-bedroom hotel within the mixed-use St Michael's development is due to be submitted later this month.
Neville said that he is taking steps to tackle the looming staff crisis by introducing a hospitality element to Academy 92, a new initiative he founded in conjunction with Trafford College. A two year programme offering a range of qualifications will see talented young footballers being offered personal skills development, alongside their football training, to prepare them for a range of future careers.
The challenge of Brexit and the loss of hundreds and thousands of European workers that may follow will be discussed by a panel of speakers during the Hotel Forum. Andrew Boer, principal of the Edge Hotel School will be joined by leading operators who will talk about what steps they are taking to attract staff and, in particular, make the hospitality sector an attractive career option among parents and schools.
The Hotel Forum will be held on Wednesday 29 November at the Park Plaza Westminster Bridge, London. To book tickets, visit the Hotel Forum website.
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