Sector vacancies see ‘surprise increase’

By Rebecca Weller

- Last updated on GMT

Significant challenge: sector vacancies up by 12,000 (Credit: Getty/Alvarez)
Significant challenge: sector vacancies up by 12,000 (Credit: Getty/Alvarez)

Related tags Training ukhospitality Recruitment

A “surprise increase” in vacancies across the sector demonstrates the “significant challenge” staff shortages still pose for hospitality firms, trade body UKHospitality (UKH) has said.

Figures released today (Tuesday 17 October) by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealed vacancies in the accommodation and food service industry had increased to 121,000.

The upswing comes after five consecutive months of decreases and meant vacancies within the industry were more than 30,000 higher than pre-pandemic levels.

Significant challenge

UKH​ chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “Staff shortages remain a significant challenge for hospitality businesses, causing many to operate far below full capacity.

“This surprise increase in vacancies demonstrates the fluctuations that remain in the labour market and the need for action to help businesses get people into work.”

In a bid to combat workforce issues, UKH has called on the Government​ to commit to scaling up skills pilot projects, reform the apprenticeship levy to allow 25% of funds to be used for non-apprenticeship training and instigate Youth Mobility Scheme agreements with European nations.

Job opportunties

Nicholls added: “As the third largest employer in the UK, implementing these measures will unlock thousands of job opportunities.

“Not only is hospitality well placed to kickstart someone’s career, but it can help bring people back into the workforce too, providing a key solution to an economy-wide challenge.

“Government action in these areas would be a clear signal it is prepared to help businesses resolve a key issue, as well as keeping venues at the heart of their communities thriving.”

Earlier this year, UKH also called for the Government to add chefs to the Shortage Occupation List​​.

Last week the trade body also urged Chancellor Jeremy Hunt to review the apprenticeship levy as well as extend business rates relief and review the rate of VAT for hospitality firms in the upcoming Autumn Statement​.

This comes as multiple-operator Austin Whelan recently told The Morning Advertiser​ staffing issues were the “biggest thing holding back growth” in the sector.

He said: “[Staffing levels​​] have stopped me growing even more than we have. There are opportunities out there I'd love to try and jump on, but you've got to get the pubs that you have right first, and staffing issues are a major problem.”

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