117,000 job vacancies in hospitality sector

By Nikkie Thatcher

- Last updated on GMT

Staff shortage: the vacancies in the accommodation and food sector make up just over a tenth of the UK's overall empty job roles (image: Getty/SolStock)
Staff shortage: the vacancies in the accommodation and food sector make up just over a tenth of the UK's overall empty job roles (image: Getty/SolStock)

Related tags Recruitment Training Ons ukhospitality

There are currently 117,000 vacancies in the accommodation and food service sector – up from 16,000 for the same period (May to July) in 2020, according to official figures.

Data from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) revealed this is the highest number of vacancies for the industry in 20 years – when the records date back to.

The second highest numbers were seen in April to June of this year when there were 102,000 hospitality job roles empty.

When looking at vacancy figures in 2019, the May to July time frame saw 92,000 vacancies. Prior to the Coronavirus pandemic, the highest numbers were seen from July to September 2019, where vacancies in the sector were at 97,000.

At present, the UK has 953,000 vacancies across all sectors meaning accommodation and food services make up just over a tenth (about 12%) of total job vacancies across the country.

Widespread recruitment challenges

The wholesale and retail trade including the repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles is seeing higher levels of vacancies currently with 124,000 while the human health and social work activities industry has 161,000.

On the figures, UKHospitality (UKH) chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “The sector is experiencing widespread recruitment challenges and this is just one of the many negative effects stemming from a prolonged period of closure that hospitality has suffered.

“While furlough has helped protect many sector jobs, businesses that have been haemorrhaging cash or accruing debt during enforced enclosures and trading restrictions have been forced to let staff go and were unable to reopen with full teams intact. Some of these workers will have moved to different sectors that have been open and busy over the course of the pandemic.                   

“This is just more evidence of how hospitality has been uniquely hit by the pandemic and of the crucial need for Government to continue its support. As a sector we are committed to promoting the incredible, varied and rewarding careers that hospitality has to offer, to overcome the uncertainties that the stop/start reopenings and closures seem to have generated during the Covid crisis.”

The sector’s staff shortage crisis has been well-documented with many operators being hit hard by the ‘pingdemic’.

Staff pressures

While changes to the rules around self-isolation and those who have receive two doses of the Covid vaccine have now been introduced, many businesses employ younger staff who have not yet had the opportunity to receive a second dose.

St Austell CEO Kevin Georgel said: “We welcome the changes to the Test & Trace app and rules around self-isolation from the 16 August, which will help to alleviate some pressures on hospitality businesses and their staff. The ‘pingdemic’ has had a huge impact on the recovery of our sector at a critical time.

“However, in the south west our business is facing a unique challenge as we have many visitors to the area in these peak summer months, combined with a largely young workforce, many of whom will not be double vaccinated by 16 August. This means pressures on our staff are set to continue if younger members of the team continue to have to self-isolate when ‘pinged’.

“If recent changes to the app do not bring about the desired shift in the severity of the ‘pingdemic’, then it is crucial that the Government explores other options. Along with much of the industry, we would fully support a ‘test and release’ system that would allow our younger employees to carry on working."

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