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Hospitality Tackles its Labour Shortage

Published 13 September 2022

3 min read

Covid-driven travel and hospitality disruptions over the past two years have resulted in employees opting for different career paths. Favouring alternative work settings (52%), better pay (45%), greater benefits (29%), more flexibility (19%), and hybrid working models (16%), over a third of American jobseekers who previously worked in hospitality are not even considering returning to the industry (Joblist, 2021). There’s a predicted shortage of 412,000 employees in the US this year (WTTC, 2022).

Meanwhile, in the UK, the Office for National Statistics found 173,000 vacancies in accommodation and food services between May and July this year. This record labour shortage in the hospitality sector amounts to £21bn ($24.3bn) in lost revenue, with nearly half (45%) of businesses slashing trading hours or capacity to cope (BigHospitality, 2022).

In the EU, up to 1.2 million vacancies in the tourism industry will remain unfilled, with hospitality, aviation and travel agencies the worst affected (WTTC, 2022). In Portugal, one in 10 openings in this sector are expected to stay open this year (WTTC, 2022), while France’s industry will face a shortfall of 71,000 jobs – with one in 19 remaining unfilled (WTTC, 2022). Italy will be the most heavily impacted EU country this year, with a predicted shortage of 250,000 employees, and one in six vacancies continuing to stay available (WTTC, 2022).

“We are seeing businesses unable to open their doors, not because of a lack of demand, but because of a lack of staff,” Ros Morgan, chief executive of UK non-profit Heart of London Business Alliance, told trade publication BigHospitality. “It’s like another lockdown for business, but this time without support from government.” As a result, London’s hospitality operators are calling on UK policymakers to ease Brexit visa restrictions, to allow international jobseekers to join the workforce.

To address the industry’s labour shortage, hospitality operators and non-profits across the globe are stepping in with new training initiatives. In the UK, the charity Only a Pavement Away is calling for vital funds to support their employment programmes. These assist individuals facing homelessness, prison leavers and vulnerable veterans – “an untapped talent pool”, according to chief executive Greg Mangham – in securing hospitality employment.

Elsewhere, New Zealand’s Ministry of Social Development has partnered with Hilton Lake Taupo hotel to launch a two-week course for those interested in a hospitality career. Training includes cocktail and barista skills, waiting tables, food preparation, housekeeping, and porter and luggage services. And in Australia, employment initiative Spark – alongside the Canberra Institute of Technology and industry association ClubsAct – has unveiled a free four-week programme that covers training in customer service, food safety and bar operation, among others.

Meanwhile, US hotels are introducing incentives to boost their workforce – nearly 90% have increased wages, while 71% are providing more flexible hours (AHLA, 2022).

These initiatives seek to alleviate the hospitality sector’s global labour shortage, so that operators can hire – and retain – skilled workers.

Covid-driven travel and hospitality disruptions over the past two years have resulted in employees opting for different career paths. Favouring alternative work settings (52%), better pay (45%), greater benefits (29%), more flexibility (19%), and hybrid working models (16%), over a third of American jobseekers who previously worked in hospitality are not even considering returning to the industry (Joblist, 2021). There’s a predicted shortage of 412,000 employees in the US this year (WTTC, 2022).

Meanwhile, in the UK, the Office for National Statistics found 173,000 vacancies in accommodation and food services between May and July this year. This record labour shortage in the hospitality sector amounts to £21bn ($24.3bn) in lost revenue, with nearly half (45%) of businesses slashing trading hours or capacity to cope (BigHospitality, 2022).

In the EU, up to 1.2 million vacancies in the tourism industry will remain unfilled, with hospitality, aviation and travel agencies the worst affected (WTTC, 2022). In Portugal, one in 10 openings in this sector are expected to stay open this year (WTTC, 2022), while France’s industry will face a shortfall of 71,000 jobs – with one in 19 remaining unfilled (WTTC, 2022). Italy will be the most heavily impacted EU country this year, with a predicted shortage of 250,000 employees, and one in six vacancies continuing to stay available (WTTC, 2022).

“We are seeing businesses unable to open their doors, not because of a lack of demand, but because of a lack of staff,” Ros Morgan, chief executive of UK non-profit Heart of London Business Alliance, told trade publication BigHospitality. “It’s like another lockdown for business, but this time without support from government.” As a result, London’s hospitality operators are calling on UK policymakers to ease Brexit visa restrictions, to allow international jobseekers to join the workforce.

To address the industry’s labour shortage, hospitality operators and non-profits across the globe are stepping in with new training initiatives. In the UK, the charity Only a Pavement Away is calling for vital funds to support their employment programmes. These assist individuals facing homelessness, prison leavers and vulnerable veterans – “an untapped talent pool”, according to chief executive Greg Mangham – in securing hospitality employment.

Elsewhere, New Zealand’s Ministry of Social Development has partnered with Hilton Lake Taupo hotel to launch a two-week course for those interested in a hospitality career. Training includes cocktail and barista skills, waiting tables, food preparation, housekeeping, and porter and luggage services. And in Australia, employment initiative Spark – alongside the Canberra Institute of Technology and industry association ClubsAct – has unveiled a free four-week programme that covers training in customer service, food safety and bar operation, among others.

Meanwhile, US hotels are introducing incentives to boost their workforce – nearly 90% have increased wages, while 71% are providing more flexible hours (AHLA, 2022).

These initiatives seek to alleviate the hospitality sector’s global labour shortage, so that operators can hire – and retain – skilled workers.

Want to know more?

This is just a glimpse into our extensive reporting for members on the shifting consumer and product trends in Travel & Hospitality. Get in touch so someone from the Stylus team can explain how your business can harness the power of trends and insights like these – and more.

Want to know more?

This is just a glimpse into our extensive reporting for members on the shifting consumer and product trends in Travel & Hospitality. Get in touch so someone from the Stylus team can explain how your business can harness the power of trends and insights like these – and more.