Over 55s to mind the hospitality gap?

Estimates are that an additional 60,000 staff a year will need to be found by the hospitality industry to make up for the flow of EU workers leaving jobs in Britain.

The hospitality sector became the first major UK industry to present a plan to reduce its dependence on EU workers, when the British Hospitality Association (BHA) published a report by KPMG with the above figure, 31 March.

The report, Labour Migration in the Hospitality Sector, pointed out that the sector was “highly reliant” on EU national workers, with up to 24% of the sector’s workforce made up of EU migrants. It says the labour shortfall 10 years after Brexit would be 1m if EU migration fell to zero from 2019.

The sector is likely to target older British workers in an attempt to plug the gap. Although the strategy is focusing also on the unemployed and the next generation.

This includes using Premier League football clubs as centres for running job fairs under the name The Big Hospitality Conversation. These have already been held successfully at Liverpool’s Anfield stadium, Tottenham’s White Hart Lane and elsewhere.

The association is also lobbying the government to ensure that any new immigration system does not leave numerous posts in the sector unfilled.

“Hospitality careers in countries like France and Germany are considered much more attractive than they are in this country,” said BHA chief executive Ufi Ibrahim.

One of the recent stadium jobs fair targeted at the over 55s resulted in 900 visitors leaving with job offers, Ibrahim claimed.

“We have got to reposition the industry in a way that we have not had to do before. There is a lot of flexibility in terms of hours which might suit older people who don’t want to work full time.”

The association said it welcomed, in this context, recent comments by cabinet ministers that there would be no ‘cliff edge’ in immigration policy due to Brexit.

The research claimed 4.5m workers are employed across hospitality and tourism as a whole. It is the fourth largest industry in the UK contributing 10% of GDP.

The KPMG report said that 75% of waiters and waitresses, 25% of chefs and 37% of housekeeping staff are from the EU.

Martin Fullard


Martin Fullard

Martin Fullard: journalist, presenter, producer. Martin is the Deputy Editor at Conference News and Conference & Meetings World magazines. He leads the digital channels on Mash Media’s Conference Division as well as heading up Mash TV. He is formerly a web editor at a national newspaper in the Middle East and motoring journalist.

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