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Navigating the Recruitment Landscape in the UK Hospitality Sector

25/06/2024

In 2023, almost 10 hospitality businesses closed every day. However, with a packed sports and cultural calendar and a whopping 75% of Brits planning a staycation this year, the upcoming months are a crucial time for the sector.

This surge in local tourism is a beacon of hope for the struggling industry.

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To capitalise on this increase in demand, hospitality businesses nationwide are looking to expand their teams.

A remarkable 80% of UK hospitality businesses are increasing their staffing levels for the summer alone, with nearly 1 million new roles being created in the sector.

However, looking beyond the warmer months, 69% of hospitality employers are still grappling with the effects of Brexit, and a quarter are struggling to find the people they need locally.

This has led employers to search elsewhere to find the talent their businesses need to thrive.

The good news is that there is a captive audience ready to fill these roles. Around 30% of the UK’s workforce is open to relocating for their next opportunity, with over 8 million people considering a career shift into hospitality.

But how can businesses turn this interest into actual hires? And how can they ensure these short-term hires stay for the long haul?

With two-thirds of hospitality employers seeking advice on recruitment strategies, we’re here to help. This article provides insights and practical steps to unlock new talent pools across the UK.

Key Statistics:

  • 86% of hospitality employers in the UK are increasing their recruitment for Summer 2024.
  • 1 in 4 hospitality employers are facing a talent shortage in their local area.
  • 7 in 10 hospitality employers are hoping to recruit from other regions in the UK.
  • 3 in 10 UK workers are open to relocating for work.

Data from Caterer.com has revealed that hospitality vacancies in the UK increased by 26% in Q1 2024, with the most significant hiring drives in Scotland (60%), the North East (59%), and East Anglia (40%).

Employers nationwide anticipate their demand for workers will peak during the summer months.

This recruitment drive is set against a backdrop where 75% of UK families are planning a staycation, opting for local getaways over international travel.

Coupled with a busy sporting calendar and popular live events, such as Taylor Swift’s ERAs tour, hospitality businesses are gearing up for rising demand.

As a result, the average hospitality employer plans to hire seven additional staff members, with 52% of SMEs expecting their recruitment to peak in July.

Rising Candidate Activity:

Fortunately, data from Caterer.com shows that candidate activity is on the rise, with the average area of the UK recording a 43% increase in Applications Per Vacancy (APV) in Q1 2024 compared to the same time last year.

Despite this increase, 7 in 10 employers continue to face recruitment challenges due to various reasons, including the lingering impact of Brexit.

Challenges such as a lack of available talent in their area, potential candidates’ poor perception of the industry, and the need to compete on salary are prevalent.

Regional Challenges:

Different regions face unique recruitment challenges:

  • High cost of living: Most impacting employers in the East Midlands (86%), the West Midlands (75%), and Scotland (75%).
  • Poor perception of the industry: Particularly difficult in Yorkshire (67%), the North West (60%), and the North East (50%).
  • Scarcity of talent: Most acute in Wales (50%), the East of England (44%), and the South East (33%).

Barriers to Recruitment:

The hardest roles to fill in hospitality include:

  • Chefs: 2 in 3 businesses struggle to onboard the right chefs.
  • General Management: 59% find these roles hard to fill.
  • Front of House positions: 57% struggle to fill these vacancies.

As the UK hospitality sector navigates these challenges, a strategic approach to recruitment is essential.

By understanding the unique obstacles different regions face and leveraging the increasing interest in hospitality careers, businesses can build strong teams to meet the growing demand.

Whether it’s refining job ads, creating appealing offers, or broadening recruitment efforts nationwide, these strategies will help turn interest into hires and ensure long-term retention.

The hospitality industry stands at a pivotal moment. By addressing these recruitment challenges head-on, businesses can ensure a prosperous future and continue to thrive in an ever-evolving market.

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