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One in nine hospitality jobs remain vacant despite recent improvements in recruitment, new surveys from CGA by NielsenIQ and Fourth reveal.

The October Business Confidence Survey, that goes out to leaders of multi-site businesses, shows 11% of roles are vacant—a figure that is level with the last survey three months ago, but down from a peak vacancy rate of 15% at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The recovery in recruitment since the end of Covid restrictions means the sector has increased its headcount by 8.8% in the 12 months to September, according to Fourth’s latest Hospitality Workforce Report. It suggests that efforts to attract more people to work in pubs, bars and restaurants, including through the Hospitality Rising campaign, are starting to pay off.

The data from Fourth’s Hospitality Workforce Report, which analyses more than 700 companies across the UK restaurant, pub, bar, QSR and hotel sectors, shows a staff turnover rate of 8.3% in September—equivalent to one in 12 workers vacating their post. This is the highest figure since March 2020, when the start of the COVID-19 pandemic led many overseas workers to return home.

Staff shortages have forced many hospitality operators to raise pay levels to attract new workers. The Business Confidence Survey from CGA and Fourth indicates that average pay has risen by 9% in the last 12 months.

The shortages are a risk to guest experiences and sales in the run-up to Christmas, with some venues likely to be forced to cut opening hours because of a lack of frontline team members.

They are further increasing uncertainty about the future of the sector, and the Business Confidence Survey indicates that just 8% of leaders feel confident about the next 12 months for the eating and drinking out market.

Sebastien Sepierre, managing director – EMEA, Fourth, said, “From a labour standpoint, the hospitality sector is precariously placed as, despite a growing headcount, operators are still struggling to fill roles.

'Recruitment is just one major issue that is facing sector businesses, with sky-high inflation, the cost-of-doing-business crisis, soaring fuel costs and dented consumer confidence, all factoring into what is an incredibly challenging trading period.

“It is now essential that operators focus on retaining existing members of staff and keeping them motivated. For the longer term, campaigns like Hospitality Rising are hugely important, ensuring that sector businesses are creating an environment for new recruits to see the benefits and rewards that a career in hospitality can offer.

Technology can play a pivotal supporting role here, making it easier for businesses to hire, onboard, engage and retain team members, ensuring they are tackling this challenge head on and as efficiently and productively as possible.”

Karl Chessell, CGA’s director - hospitality operators and food, EMEA, said, “Brexit and COVID-19 have taken a heavy toll on staffing in hospitality, and with one in nine jobs open there are clearly some severe challenges in recruitment and retention.

'The rising expense of labour and many other inputs is hitting margins across hospitality hard, on top of a cost-of-living crisis that may squeeze consumers’ spending over Christmas—when businesses generate the cash that sustains them through the quieter first few months of the new year.

'Operators are working flat out to recruit, and cross-industry initiatives like Hospitality Rising are helping to sell the sector as a great place to work, but the staffing crisis is likely to stretch well into 2023.”

(source: CGA, image: pexels)