Official data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) also found that numbers of EU nationals coming into the country had fallen.
Net migration of EU citizens has dropped by 75,000 during the past year.
Exodus of EU staff?
Many pubs and bars are staffed by people from overseas, particularly in towns and cities and in kitchen roles, and any reduction in available employees could make it harder to fill vacancies.
The official data showed the total number of people from the EU coming to work or look for jobs in the UK had fallen by 45,000 to 248,000 in the year ending September 2017. Interestingly, the net migration of non-EU citizens to the UK has increased by 40,000 over the past year.
Pubs rely on overseas workers
British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) chief executive Brigid Simmonds said: “A survey of BBPA members showed that brewing and pubs employ 17% of their workforce from overseas, but this rises to 40% in metropolitan areas and in some specialist areas, such as kitchen staff, up to 80%.
“Any future immigration system must support the necessary levels of staffing in our sector. We are working closely with the Home Office on a post-Brexit migration system and have made clear that the tier system needs reform.”
'Extend Youth Mobility Scheme'
She said the BBPA would also like to see the Youth Mobility Scheme, which gives the freedom for young people to live and work in the UK for up to two years, extended to EU nationals. “There remains a challenge to attract UK nationals to work in our industry and the BBPA is very much behind the proposals for a tourism sector industrial strategy for which there is a clear focus on skills.”
Commenting on the ONS figures, a spokesperson for the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers said: “It is absolutely vital the Government acts to ensure businesses continue to have access to labour to meet predicted growth. This means providing absolute clarity and certainty on the future status of non-UK EU workers and adopting a future immigration policy that understands and accommodates the challenges and opportunities facing UK businesses.”
- For more on the employment market and the impacts of Brexit for the pub sector, join us for our Pub Skills: HR Summit on Tuesday 27 February. More information available here: Pub Skills: HR Summit event on 27 February.