How the hospitality sector can beat the labour shortage in UK and attract new talent

The current labour shortage in UK hospitality follows a bruising few years for the trade. It’s no revelation that the COVID pandemic, plus multiple lockdowns, have hit hospitality harder than most sectors. The hospitality landscape has changed as a result, with a dried-up pool of workers sifting through a glut of roles.

Now, as customers venture back out, the industry faces a new challenge: bookings are up, but the books are empty.

Could Sponsorship Licences offer a solution to the staff shortages faced by UK employers?

Why is there a shortage of staff in the hospitality industry?

It’s fair to say there has been a multi-pronged attack on the hospitality industry in recent years. Even at the outset of the pandemic, there was a modest surplus of vacancies. COVID and countrywide forced shutdowns then brought a heightened level of uncertainty to the trade. This in turn saw UK workers abandon the sector in their droves.

Add to this an exodus of EU workers due to Brexit, and you have a perfect storm for unprecedented levels of hospitality staff shortages. Currently standing at a staggering 400,000, according to latest statistics from the ONS.

This flight has also included other overseas workers. Many of these employees went home early on during the COVID-19 pandemic and have since not returned. As the country opens back up, it has become clear that these migrant workers have left a huge gap.

Louise MacLean of restaurant company the Signature Group notes of the labour shortage in UK hospitality, “We’ve lost a lot of motivated people who want to work exceptionally hard.”

What is the impact of the labour shortage on UK hospitality businesses?

Many businesses have been left tearing their hair out. Vacancies are teetering at their highest levels since records began, and a quarter of businesses are being forced to either slash hours or close their doors in a climate described as “brutal”.

With demand finally surging again as the pandemic eases, business owners now face the galling prospect of turning customers away.

Industry watchers meanwhile report a palpable hush in bars, kitchens, and hotel corridors as staff numbers dwindle and tills stay closed.

As hospitality employers scramble to recruit workers, many are now resorting to desperate measures in the new ‘battle for talent’. Feeling the pressure to throw money at the problem, some owners are even waving around cash incentives. These include sign-on bonuses of up to £2,000.00 in the frantic bid to lure workers away from competitors.

Yet many employers report that candidates aren’t even showing up to their own interviews. According to one industry insider, “When you post jobs there are no applicants. When we’ve been recruiting in this country, they’re not interested.”

Could Sponsorship Licences ease staff shortages in UK hospitality?

Interesting fact: one of the most googled search terms in UK recruitment in March 2022 was “companies on UK sponsor licence list”. Eagle-eyed hospitality employers are starting to take note. A glance at reveals the phrase “With UK Visa Sponsorship” is starting to feature on many hospitality job listings.

Why the trend with Sponsorship Licences?

Whilst the trade has fallen out of favour with British workers, the UK hospitality sector still remains a very attractive work prospect for many EU and non-EU workers outside the UK.

Companies who secure themselves a Sponsorship Licence gain a competitive advantage. They are entered onto the Home Office’s public Register of Licensed Sponsors, meaning any skilled worker outside the UK is able to view the list. Once a company has their Licence, they have access to highly motivated skilled workers who wish to work in the UK.

While processing times vary, some Sponsor Licence applications get the green light in as little as 10–28 days.

Hospitality employers find Sponsorship Licences particularly attractive for a number of reasons. A hospitality organisation can:

  • Boost its competitive advantage: gain access to a large untapped pool of skilled workers
  • Increase staff retention: the Skilled Worker route attracts reliable and motivated employees
  • Lower recruitment costs: reduce uncertainty and pull in rather than chase staff

Our Sponsor Licence lawyers are experts in this area and can support your organisation at every step of its Sponsorship Licence application. To schedule a no-obligation chat, leave your details on this page.

If your business urgently needs to recruit, consider the Sponsor Licence Priority Service. This option speeds up the process of applying for a Sponsorship Licence and allows your business to fill the gaps in employment, fast.