Sacha Lord repeats staffing concerns

By Nikkie Thatcher

- Last updated on GMT

Staffing issues: Sacha Lord also called on operators to ensure they were paying employees the right rates to help boost retention
Staffing issues: Sacha Lord also called on operators to ensure they were paying employees the right rates to help boost retention

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Night-time economy adviser for Greater Manchester and operator Sacha Lord has reiterated worries about the sector’s staffing shortages and called on operators to commit to paying teams the living wage.

Official figures from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) in June revealed more than a tenth of the 1.3m job vacancies currently across the nation can be attributed to hospitality.

For the previous of March to May 2022, the sector had more than 174,000 empty roles, which according to the ONS, is a record high. This was up 4.8% on the previous quarter and by 135.6% compared to the previous year.

The accommodation and food services industry had the second highest number of job vacancies in all the sectors included in the data and was only proceeded by the human health and social work activities sector (215,000).

The industry also recorded 83% more vacancies over the three months to May against the same period in 2019, prior to the pandemic.

Difficult time

Furthermore, according to a survey by three of the industry’s trade bodies, staff shortages have caused nearly 45% of operators to cut trading hours​.

Lord also called on operators to ensure they are offering team members fair working hours and paid, to help staff retention.

He said: “I’ve spoken at length to operators in Greater Manchester and we continue to urge venue to ensure the right processes and pay rates are in place to attract and retain workers.

“It’s a difficult time at the moment but it is a cyclical process – if you have motivated, happy staff, the service is better and the customer experience is better.

“We can’t be naïve to the fact if staff aren’t treated fairly, including paying living wage, they will walk. They’ll move to sectors that are paying fairly, committing to hours and give them a good work life balance.

“The hospitality sector does need support and we will continue to lobby hard for that but we can’t rely on that alone. We must also work internally to aid staff retention, boost moral and attract new staff into our sector.”

Huge opportunities

He highlighted the 2,000 empty roles in Greater Manchester’s hospitality trade, referencing vacancies across the area.

Lord, who recently announced he was offering free drinks to pubgoers this summer​, added: “The opportunities in the hospitality sector are huge at the moment. Whether that’s for front of house roles, chefs, bartenders, kitchen porters, promoters or assistant managers.

“I know many people who say working behind the bar was the best job they ever had and there are huge opportunities right now, especially for part-time student roles.

“These jobs won’t just give them valuable experience when they choose to move into full-time employment but the social experiences we all know have been massively missed in the past two years.”

Trade bodies such as UKHospitality and the Night-Time Industries Association as well as Lord have called for a dedicated hospitality visa to attract overseas workers back to the UK, in a bid to plug shortages but this has not yet been backed.

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