BHA launches drive to recruit UK workers

The hospitality industry has launched a new plan to reduce its dependence on EU workers in the wake of Brexit.

The British Hospitality Association’s ten year strategy focuses on encouraging three distinct sections of the UK population to find work in the sector: the unemployed, returners to the labour market, and the next generation of workers.

UK citizens in the groups identified will be targeted via tailored events, promotional campaigns and school outreach work.

The strategy will build on the work already carried out through the BHA’s Hospitality Works and The Big Hospitality Conversation campaigns and will aim to reposition the industry as a great place to work.

The BHA presented the plan to the government last week to coincide with a new report which shows that the industry would need to recruit more than 60,000 UK workers each year in the event that free movement of labour is ended as part of a Brexit settlement.

The report by KPMG and commissioned by the BHA concluded that this figure would be unobtainable given the competing resourcing requirements of other sectors and called on the government to ensure continued access to the EU workforce whilst the extent of the industry’s reliance on migrant labour steadily declines.

The hospitality sector is highly reliant on EU national workers, according to the report, with up to 24% of the sector’s workforce made up of EU migrants, including 75% of waiters and waitresses and 25% of chefs.

“It is clear from the KPMG report that hospitality and tourism face major problems in recruitment if there is any major cut in the number of workers allowed to enter from the EU,” said Ufi Ibrahim, chief executive of the BHA. “We want to avoid there being any cliff edge but the government must be aware that in the medium to long term we will still need considerable numbers of EU workers, who have contributed so much to our industry and the UK economy in general.”

Responding to the BHA’s strategy, Unite regional officer, Dave Turnbull, said the industry would need to change the way it operates if it’s to cope with the recruitment crisis. “There is no escaping that this is an impending crisis of the industry’s own making,” he said. “Recent months have seen even more restaurants exposed for ‘creaming off’ staff tips, despite the government’s promise to crackdown on such scams, and workers being paid below the minimum wage in a Michelin-starred restaurant.”

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