So, the UK is leaving the EU. The government has entered the transitional year period to discuss details around the country’s future. A large amount of speculation, however, still exists around what this means for employment in UK businesses. In this piece, we wanted to shine a light on some areas of this discussion, particularly in relation to Hospitality and Catering.
Areas of affect
Hospitality is a broad term for businesses but covers mostly those relating to service and tourism, including hotels, restaurants, travel and events. For these businesses, the impacts of Brexit are likely to affect four main areas:
– Work force – what staff will be able to continue working in this industry and how?
– Innovation – the way in which hospitality must adapt to stay current with customer demands to maintain market share
– External Pressures – rent, inflation, farming and more are in the firing line post-Brexit. All of which can take their toll.
– Regulation – No longer tied into all EU laws and regulations, Hospitality will see changes to many areas including trade.
All of these elements are minefields for speculation, and to tackle each one would take some months. For the purpose of keeping this digestible, this blog will attempt to scratch the surface of ‘Workforce’.
What do we know?
The current UK hospitality industry alone totals well over £100bn in turnover every year according to PwC. The mechanisms in this industry required to contribute well over 3% to the UK’s GDP growth are considerable. Hospitalityandcateringnews.com identified an employment base of over 4.5 million people in 2018 within these industries and this figure has since risen. Of those employed in hospitality, roughly 15% are from the EU. For certain hotels and restaurants, this figure has been seen to reach as high as 40%.
Unfortunately, it’s hard to say what the exact implications of the UK leaving will mean for the Hospitality, Tourism and catering workforce based on current knowledge. We know the intake of immigration workers has slowed in the last couple of years thanks to research by ukhospitality.org but much of that is expected to be as a result of uncertainty in living regulations as opposed to job availability. The Government has since given the green light for current immigrant EU workers to apply for ‘Settled Status’ in the UK which is likely to cement the working numbers to an extent. Although, we would never expect this number to be 100%.
Current ‘Settled status’ availability could retain current EU workers but prevent those of the future
Until regulation is written in stone, it’s hard to say what the effect will be of the UK’s Brexit leave to future EU workers. It would be wise to assume that this is likely to become harder and so turning attention to the hiring of national workers would also be so. This slight shift in focus will require considerably more investment in promoting the Hospitality and Catering Industry as a career path in order to improve/increase the flow of new talent. The knock-on effect could spell good news for training programmes like Apprenticeships and Traineeships in the form of boosted numbers, which have for so long supported the progression of fresh talent to this industry.
Apprenticeships and Traineeships could fill the gaps of future employment
On a side note, any resources spent on pushing Hospitality and Catering Apprenticeships could be hindered by continued slow take up around these career paths. This is represented by the issue of meritocracy around Apprenticeships by lower-level education, businesses and parents. Apprenticeships are still a less communicated career path choice. To add to this the crisis of lower-level apprenticeship funding from the government (level 2 apprenticeships are pretty much dead in many industries) also continues, putting a squeeze on potential future talent.
Short term Hospitality and Catering job contracts are most at risk
UK Hospitality have warned that short term contracts are most at risk from changing regulations. Net migration from the UK as a result of Brexit is on the rise according to Harry Murray, President of the Hotel Association which reduces the opportunity to employ talent on all levels. Add to this, the current record-high employment rates in the UK and any short-term solutions to Hospitality and catering staffing needs will be stretched. The communication of available opportunities for the future workforce likely lay with early careers education – as a long-term solution.
The conclusion to a lot of these points is, unfortunately ‘it depends’. But an awareness of the issues and potential solutions gives powerful capabilities to the firms planning longer-term. Stay up to date with news and communicate with peers to stay on top.