Staffing Crisis for the Hospitality Sector

Figures from the National Office of Statistics (ONS) reveal there were 102,000 vacancies in the sector from April to June 2021 – that is a rise of 12.1% compared with the 91,000 figure for the same period in 2019.

The director-general of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) has warned this shortage could last up to 2 years and hospitality retailers are already worried about not being able to effectively operate during one of their busiest times of the year, Christmas. So, what is exactly causing this staff shortage within the hospitality industry?

Empty restaurant


The on and off Covid lockdowns has been among the main reasons to blame for the massive staff shortage that has occurred and coupled with the recent ‘pingdemic’ in which the public had to self isolate due to being told by the NHS app, it only worsened the situation. However, are lockdowns the primary reason to blame for this staff shortage?

ONS stats also reveal that in March 2020 job vacancies in the industry were already at high levels. This was before the UK went into its first lockdown. since 2017, vacancies in the industry have been consistently at a staggering 90,000 or more. So, what other reasons are the cause for workers turning their back on the hospitality industry?


As a result of Brexit, there is a lack of supply of skilled coming in from the EU. The impact is being felt for many pubs and restauranteurs, not just small businesses but even larger enterprises. The UK’s largest listed pub group, Mitchells & Butlers (M&B), has lost 9,000 of its 39,000 staff since last year; D&D, the owner of more than 40 upmarket restaurants including Le Pont de la Tour and Coq d’Argent, is looking for up to 400 recruits out of a total 1,300 UK workforce; and Pizza Express is looking for 1,000 staff, having laid off thousands less than a year ago.

Kate Nicholls, chief executive of industry body UKHospitality, told The London Economic many EU citizens left the UK permanently as a result of Brexit. Almost a quarter of hospitality workers in the UK are foreign nationals, according to Ms Nicholls.

Geetie Singh-Watson MBE, owner of Devon organic inn The Bull says, “Half of my staff have come from somewhere else in the world most of the time and particularly in London, and that will be the same picture for other businesses too”.

Research shows just under 35% of new starters in the first quarter of 2021 came from the EU, compared with almost half in 2019. The majority of hospitality come from somewhere else in the world and those that do typically end up in London or the South East where staff shortages are being particularly hard felt.

Not a career option

Not just this but a career in hospitality is not considered for the long-term. In the past, younger people may have used jobs in hospitality to tide themselves over before they move on to their desired careers. The younger generation may be looking to start on their dream careers as soon as possible by bypassing jobs such as wait staff jobs which was a common thing to do prior to the pandemic.

Waiter picking up chair from table in restaurant

Wage Hikes

The government announced on their recent budget news that there will be an increase in minimum pay rates for younger people. While a rise in pay is already being used as a strategy to lure hospitality workers back to the industry many medium to small businesses within this sector will struggle with these new pay rates as they already contend with tight profit margins and are having to battle surviving in a post-pandemic world.

How better tech can help

Customer service jobs are known to be challenging and require resilience. Daily there are a variety of hurdles to navigate; difficult customers, just-on-time service and product delivery variability are all examples of some of the challenges the hospitality industry face. Technology can assist here. Here at motto our payments and EPOS allow for seamless payments and order processing. You can take orders anywhere on the premises via our handheld devices, push them through to the kitchen and take payments immediately. If you have our loyalty solutions in place you can also redeem them instantly via a simple tap.

Like what you’ve heard so far? Then get in touch

If we’ve piqued your interest, then get in touch. Take a look at some of our other blogs and case studies to see how we’ve assisted and supported a variety of businesses.

Please contact one of our friendly and knowledgeable sales reps if you are looking for Online Ordering, EPOS, Payments, or Loyalty systems. If you’re curious about how motto can assist you, fill out our form and get started on your motto journey today.

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