Hastings hospitality sector struggling to fill vacancies due to uncertainty and ‘EU workers not returning’

The Hastings hospitality sector is struggling to fill job vacancies due to a shortage caused by uncertainty surrounding the industry.

One pub in the town has lost two of its three chefs since the start of the pandemic, a hotel is offering ‘finders’ fees’ of £1,000 for the successful recruitment of kitchen staff and cafés and restaurants in the area are reducing their opening hours due to the inability to recruit sufficient staff.

UK Hospitality said there was a shortfall of 188,000 workers nationwide. They said one reason for this was the uncertainty around taking a job in the hospitality sector, due to many staff being laid off during the pandemic.

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Kevin Boorman, manager of the 1066 Country Marketing tourism partnership, said he had ‘never known such problems in rectruiting hospitality staff locally, certainly not in the last 20 years’.

Hastings Town Centre SUS-210906-121325001

He added: “This is clearly a national issue, and has been raised at VisitEngland and British Destinations (our trade body) meetings I have attended very recently.”

UK Hospitality has also said Brexit has contributed to staff shortages, as EU workers have returned to their home countries.

John Bownas, manager of Love Hastings said the problem is not limited to just the hospitality sector.

He added: “I’ve been speaking to other businesses such as estate agents who are in a similar position and simply cannot get applicants for even entry-level positions. We’ve posted up several job adds for local bars and cafés recently on the Love Hastings social media pages to try and get them the staff they need to operate – but vacancies are still commonplace.

“It seems like a big contributing factor is that over a million workers from other parts of the EU left the UK at the start of the pandemic but few of them have returned.”