A new study reveals that the hospitality sector has lost over 93,000 EU workers in 2020, revealing a major shift in the industry’s workforce.

A new report published by Caterer.com has shown that the hospitality industry in the UK has boosted company benefits and pay in order to attract various types of talent.

This comes as the industry lost a large number of EU workers after the effects of Brexit as well as the pandemic.

This has particularly impacted certain regional areas such as London where figures suggest the percentage of EU workers pre-pandemic was as high as 75 per cent.

However, three-fifths (60 per cent) of hospitality employers now have reported receiving more applications from UK workers than ever before, further indicating the changing landscape of the industry.

In addition to this, the lifting of lockdown restrictions has also heavily contributed to new trends within the industry.

Over two-thirds (67 per cent) of employers are seeing staff who left the hospitality industry during lockdown now return from other sectors and over half (56 per cent) have hired new staff from other sectors in the last three months.

In addition, over half of employers (58 per cent) have increased their benefits packages over the last year to attract new talent.

Other pay and work-life benefits currently offered by the vast majority of hospitality employers include bonuses (80 per cent), personal development programmes (81 per cent), flexible shift patterns (83 per cent) and free meals (77 per cent).

However, Caterer.com called on the Government to relax immigration rules and widen the talent pool.

Close to two-thirds (64 per cent) of employers are concerned that EU workers who left the UK during Covid will not return and a recent report from UKHospitality found that 66 per cent of the sector call for short-term visas for overseas workers. Over a fifth (22 per cent) call for travel restrictions to be lifted completely.

Kathy Dyball, Director at Caterer.com commented:

It’s encouraging to see more UK workers entering the industry as people see the valuable, long-term employment opportunities hospitality can offer.

However, talented EU workers remain an essential part of the sector’s success and we join the industry in calling for the government to urgently make it easier for hospitality talent to return to the UK.

The staff shortages the sector has been grappling with have only been exacerbated by recent ‘pingdemic’ and staff being taken out of work at no notice.

Yet again this is a case of the sector needing more attention from the government to be able to trade profitably. In the longer-term there is work to be done to change perceptions of the industry.

Its reputation has suffered due to lockdowns, with job uncertainty added to the list of misconceptions such as low pay and lack of flexibility. Working together as an industry to address these will be paramount to develop future talent pipelines.


*Caterer.com commissioned research through Opinium to survey: 250 hospitality senior DMs responsible for recruitment between 9th–19th July 2021 and 2,001 nationally representative UK adults between 9th–13th July 2021.