As we trudge through the embers of 2016, it’s clear the decision made on 23 June will continue to effect the UK for many years to come. Geoff Campion uses Fourth’s latest statistics to highlight the impact a ‘hard’ Brexit would have on the hospitality workforce and argues it should act as a catalyst for employers to focus on creating a ‘winning’ culture in an increasingly competitive job market.
I’m certainly not jealous of Theresa May. As Prime Minister, she has the unenviable task of negotiating a beneficial Brexit deal for the UK, as she looks to trigger Article 50 next March. Without getting bogged down in too much political jargon, I think it’s fair to summarise – it’s all a bit of a pickle.
One aspect of Brexit never far from the spotlight is what would happen, once Article 50 has been triggered, to EU workers currently living and working in the UK, and ultimately the industries they support. While politicians argue this point out in Westminster, one thing we know for sure is the potentially devastating impact a ‘hard’ Brexit would have on the hospitality industry.
Thanks to statistics from our client, Fourth – the leading global software provider for the hospitality and leisure industries – we have transparency on the extent to which the hospitality industry relies on foreign workers. And the findings are pretty stark.
Taken from a sample group of 25,000 workers, split across the restaurant, pub, quick-service-restaurant and hotel sectors, the numbers show that foreign nationals make up 43% of all employees across the UK hospitality industry. Digging deeper, this number increases to 58% when looking at back of house (BOH) roles in the industry. Scarier still, this number increases to 71% for BOH roles in the restaurant sector.
The figures speak volumes – the industry would struggle to function if it lost access to workers from the EU. And, considering the fierce battle for talent that’s currently being fought across the industry, particularly for BOH roles such as chefs, companies are starting to feel the heat.
In this environment, more than ever, the onus is on employers to create a culture that attracts and retains the best employees. Today’s young job seekers are fickle, tech savvy and demanding, so businesses, particularly those within the hospitality industry, need to switch up the way they operate and make themselves a more attractive long-term career prospect.
Regardless of what happens after March 2017, the threat should shake up employers and get them assessing whether their current systems are fit for purpose. Those who move fast, and are malleable enough to change their employee proposition to suit the wants and needs of the next generation of workers, will be the ones who flourish.
Follow me on Twitter: @GeoffCampion