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'Chronic' staff crisis continues as vacancy gap widens

Published:  14 June, 2022

New figures have shown how the hospitality sector’s staffing crisis is worsening under growing stagnancy in the job market, as the gap between new job creation and people willing to enter the workforce is widening. 

According to the latest ONS data, the hospitality sector experienced 83% more vacancies between March and May compared to the same period between 2019, putting the hospitality staff shortage at a record high. In the last 12 months, the sector has created nearly 300,000 new roles, amounting to approximately one in three UK jobs.

However, at the same time, the number of people not in work and actively seeking work is falling. According to the new figures, hospitality currently has 174,000 jobs available. Yet, this is set against a backdrop of underwhelming activity within the jobs market, where the number of people in the UK who are 'economically inactive' has fallen by 130,000.

“These figures show that the hospitality industry continues to return to growth and is attracting new people into the workforce,” UKHospitality CEO, Kate Nicholls, said.

“However, high vacancy rates are impeding our ability to trade. This is particularly concerning as we enter the summer, a key trading period for much of the sector.”

Last month, UKHospitality launched its Workforce Strategy in order to tackle the staff deficit. This includes working with colleges and universities to attract students into work this summer, while “demonstrating how flexible working will provide opportunities”.

However, Nicholls said, the industry needs government support: “The points-based system needs to be tweaked to make it easier for seasonal and lower skilled workers to enter the workforce and the apprenticeship levy should be freed-up to help us attract the workforce we need to recover and grow.”