Where are all of the candidates?

June 9, 2021 Author: Katherine Wyles

With a surge in vacancies as hospitality reopens, the expectation that there would be a plethora of quality, available candidates in the market hasn’t materialised. Recruiters and businesses are all crying out for candidates, but where are they?

Despite the huge influx in vacancies, job seekers are remaining hesitant to apply for roles in the hospitality industry after the turbulence of the past 13 months. There are 335,000 fewer people employed in the hospitality industry compared to last year, according to the ONS.

Whilst the recent re-opening of indoor hospitality has resulted in an increase in hiring, with job adverts for hospitality roles running above pre-pandemic levels for the first time since the start of the crisis and the total number of vacancies close to 1 million*, recruiters and businesses are struggling to fill vacancies. (*Adzuna)

Why are there fewer candidates in the marketplace?

A cocktail of Brexit, a decline in confidence of job security, talent returning to their home countries, deciding to remain in their roles or being attracted to roles in other industries have resulted in a perfect storm for the decline in available talent in the hospitality industry.

A recent survey of 15 large hospitality brands, including InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG), Compass Group UK and Ireland and BaxterStorey, by the charity Springboard found many are facing major recruitment challenges.

As reported in The Caterer, one in three respondents noted that they do not have enough employees to manage re-opening indoors, 80% said there was a lack of skilled candidates, almost 90% are struggling to recruit for kitchen and back of house positions despite reduced capacity and over 30% are unable to fill senior management roles.

The Brexit Effect

Brexit, compounded by the pandemic, has seen hospitality lose many employees and future candidates as they return home overseas and are prevented from returning to the UK due to the introduction of the points-based immigration system.

Under new rules, applicants coming to the UK to work must be paid at least £25,600 a year, which for entry level roles across the hospitality sector will preclude many talented candidates, who would otherwise be nurtured into a career in hospitality.

The financial and administrative challenges associated with visa sponsorship present many challenges alongside severe penalties for employers who are found to be non-compliant. This is likely to lead to many employers electing to not hire overseas workers, which would add to the candidate shortages due to the recent uncertainty surrounding Brexit and the new immigration system.

The Saviour of Furlough but Masking the Reality

As furloughed employees (across all sectors) fell from about 5m at the end of March to around 3m by late April 2021, the reality of employee shortages became realised. Whilst furlough was the saviour for many businesses, allowing them flexibility to manage their work-force and protect more than 11 million jobs since the pandemic began (BBC), it often masked a true representation of the situation in hospitality, which has now been unveiled.

Perceived Confidence of Job Security

Vacancies are drawing fewer interested candidates than pre-pandemic with some candidates noting a decline in the confidence of job security as a reason for looking for a new position in hospitality. This has led to many candidates choosing to remain in their existing roles, or those who have been offered a new role, employers often engage in bidding wars for candidates, offering them attractive salary increases to remain with their company.

The Transferable Skills of Hospitality

The transferable skills developed whilst working in the hospitality sector can be easily applied to other industries and this has been seen with candidates choosing to pursue careers in other sectors, retrain or setting up their own businesses as a result of changed circumstances.

Where do we go from here?

Whilst there remains a number of challenges, there are encouraging initiatives across the sector to invest in training, development, wellbeing and accelerating careers.   Developing hospitality at the grass-roots level by working with colleagues, university students and graduate programs to produce talent for the industry will also be essential.

Springboard charity is spearheading this movement and has launched an initiative called Springboard to 2022, which is aiming to train 10,000 young people to work in the sector by December 2022.

At FM Recruitment, we are here to support both businesses and candidates to navigate the world of hospitality recruitment. We are specialists in financial recruitment at all levels in the UK and internationally. We belong to the Hospitality People Group who offer a wide variety of roles from c-suite level and everything in between.

For support with your next career move or to improve your recruitment strategy, please contact FM Recruitment now using any of the below details:

Office +44 20 8600 1160 I Email fm@fmrecruitment.co.uk
Chris Denison Smith +44 7775 711923 I Email chrisdenisonsmith@fmrecruitment.co.uk
Andrea Shaw +44 7714 236469 I Email andreashaw@fmrecruitment.co.uk