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BHA round-up: We know the post-Brexit solutions, now we need the government to act

03 November 2017 by

The BHA is trying to bring the government onside in tackling an
inevitable post-Brexit surge in the recruitment crisis. Ufi Ibrahim explains

As most readers will be aware, we at the British Hospitality Association (BHA) are extremely worried about where our members and others in the industry are going to find recruits to fill jobs post-Brexit. We have laid out our concerns based on research we commissioned earlier this year from KPMG, which shows a further 60,000 workers annually are required to power growth, in addition to the 200,000 needed to replace those leaving the sector every year. This issue will affect almost every business in the sector, either directly if they employ EU nationals, or indirectly through greater recruitment competition.

Before people accuse us of whingeing and say we should just get on with it, it is worth pointing out that we are getting on with it. The BHA was the first major industry to present the government with a 10-year plan to encourage more Brits to consider a career in hospitality and tourism. We pointed out that employment in the UK is already at an all-time high, which will limit the numbers available, but we have also come up with a variety of approaches.

I have written to the immigration minister and the education minister expressing our dismay at the delay, and urging them to reconsider what I described as an oversight, with the two government departments seeming not to have joined up their plans. We don't want any avoidable delay in the introduction of much-needed qualifications costing us jobs and growth - both of which the country needs.

There can be no question there are significant shortcomings in vocational education, and other areas relevant to hospitality and tourism. We believe the apprenticeship levy needs to be reworked so that full learning costs can be recovered by businesses.

We think there needs to be a way to ensure hospitality management degree
courses do not end up with students having to shoulder huge personal debt. We think there should be guaranteed funding for the Careers & Enterprise Company in England to run a nationwide programme for the industry. And we think our 10-year campaign to recruit more UK workers needs the secondment of senior specialist staff from the Department for Work & Pensions to help, and that all local enterprise partnerships in England should include hospitality and tourism in their strategic plans.

At the heart of all this is a way of presenting hospitality and tourism in a fresh and contemporary way. Two of the most successful recent Big Hospitality Conversation events (our job fairs) have been held at Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur FC. We need to do more of this sort of event. It was something I discussed recently with the employment minister when we spoke about the ongoing collaboration between the BHA and the Department for Work & Pensions and Job- Centre Plus - our key partners in Hospitality Works and the Big Hospitality Conversation.

Ufi Ibrahim is chief executive of the British Hospitality Association

Hospitality Day
The BHA recently held its annual Hospitality Day in the Houses of Parliament, where members were able to tell MPs about their concerns, notably over the availability of EU workers post-Brexit, massive business rate increases, and the unfairness over tourism VAT in the UK compared with the rest of Europe. But it wasn't all serious. There were appearances from Shrek and some Butlins
redcoats to lighten the load.

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