Is the Hospitality Industry at Breaking Point?

The hospitality industry is often regarded as a springboard into the workplace for many young people but recently the UK has experienced rising staff shortages, with job vacancies at their highest levels since records began.

Covid-19 and Brexit have been cited as contributing to the problem. Since the start of the pandemic, 1 in 5 workers have left the sector, according to industry bodies such as Hospitality UK.

Prior to the pandemic, the hospitality industry employed 3.2m people and was the UK’s third largest private sector employer, with vacancies consistently around 90,000.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics reveal that job vacancies in the industry were already at high levels before the UK went into in lockdown in March 2020.

Much of this shortfall could be attributed to the perceived culture of very long working-hours and low wages. Hospitality insiders suggest that some shortages, particularly of chefs, waiting staff and restaurant managers, are being seen because the Government reopened the whole economy at the same time and so everybody is looking for staff. Hospitality UK state that the industry can return to pre-pandemic levels of demand by the start of 2022, but warns it is “undoubtedly going to take the industry a long time to recover”.

The situation could be seen as a “reset moment” with employers looking at working conditions, training, and skills development.

Staff shortages are impacting on hospitality businesses in many ways – with reduced opening hours, it is highly likely that with overworked teams, customer service will suffer alongside reputational damage and an increase in complaints. Pressure on existing staff where they are covering multiple job roles that they may not be trained or qualified to do. Pressure on staff who are training new staff and the time and effort this takes alongside trying to do their own jobs.

With increasing challenges facing the hospitality industry, it is important to ensure that all staff are fully trained ahead of starting their first shift.

By ignoring the importance of workplace training, you could risk:

  • An increase in workplace accidents, decreased staff morale and increased absence. There is a legal obligation to ensure staff are provided with adequate health and safety training.
  • Inadequately trained staff are likely to experience poor job performance and increased levels of work-related stress.
  • Lack of training leads to staff feeling undervalued, which will reduce workplace productivity, loyalty and engagement.


Article from our North East Leisure Supplement 2022, produced in conjunction with Sanderson Weatherall.

Mark Quigley Partner at or 0191 226 4899.

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