Audit, tax and consulting firm RSM looked at the latest UK-wide job postings on recruitment site Indeed and found there were some 39,167 live vacancies for hospitality jobs posted in the last two weeks.
This was an increase of almost half (46%) from 26,736 postings the previous week when indoor licensed trade was allowed to resume in England, Wales and Scotland.
Almost half of the vacancies were listed as chef or cook roles, highlighting the stark impact of Brexit and the pandemic.
Licensees have said they are struggling to recruit chefs and worried staff shortages will hit their businesses hard as they try to recover from pandemic losses.
What’s more, pub operators have also been faced with increased labour requirements to meet rigorous health and safety requirements such as asking for customer contact details and regular cleaning.
One pub to despair publicly about its recruitment woes was The Duke Kendal in Cumbria, which has decided to close for food after struggling to recruit kitchen staff.
“Sad news - with this ongoing staffing crisis in the hospitality industry we have taken the decision to look after the staff we have,” the pub tweeted.
“From Monday we will no longer be serving food until further notice. This is a huge disappointment to us all.”
SAD NEWS - with this ongoing staffing crisis in the hospitality industry we have taken the decision to look after the staff we have. From Monday we will no longer be serving food until further notice. This is a huge dissapointment to us all. pic.twitter.com/dz7gir0imN— DukeKendal (@thedukekendal) May 23, 2021
The Government should consider relaxing visa rules to protect the sector’s recovery, according to Paul Newman, RSM’s head of leisure and hospitality.
“The Brexit/Covid-19 impact has reduced the pool of foreign-born workers by almost 1 million, which acutely impacts the leisure and hospitality sector,” he added.
"Employers will need to throw the net wider and look at retraining employees from other sectors to fill the gap but furlough could hamper recruitment.
Newman said: “Currently chefs qualify for a skilled worker visa but cooks don’t and this complexity is adding to the staff shortages.
"What is needed is a fast-tracked recovery visa system for hospitality workers who don’t meet the current point-based system but who are crucial to the sector’s recovery.”
Sector figureheads have also called for long term plans to support enhanced training and apprenticeships in the trade.
“All cited wanting a change in lifestyle and a move away from hospitality,” he explained.
“Most of the staff joining us are coming from other hospitality businesses that are not reopening or are uncertain of their future,” Baker said.