The impact of Brexit on the UK Hospitality Industry
With about 43% of the 4.5 million people currently working in the hospitality industry being from the European Union, there is no surprise that Brexit is a major concern for hospitality professionals running hotels, restaurants, pubs, bars, catering services, and other hospitality companies across the UK. This is due to the high level of uncertainty that Brexit brings along and to the fact that immigration is one of the most controversial issues to be agreed during the Brexit negotiations.
Considering that the hospitality and tourism industry is heavily reliant on EU workers and that hospitality is the fourth largest sector in the UK economy, we all have to be mindful of the potential impacts that leaving the European Union could cause. As training for hospitality professionals costs billions every year, it is clear that many hospitality businesses cannot afford to lose the talented and experienced workers already in their hands.
Potential impacts of Brexit on the Hospitality Industry
One significant challenge presented to hospitality managers is that not only they have to entice new talents, but there is also a huge pressure on them to retain staff they already have. As a result of Brexit (especially in the case of a no-deal Brexit), the hospitality industry is very likely to experience a scramble around for staff because the supply of EU workers will begin to diminish. With a huge number of low level, non-managerial jobs in hotels and restaurants being filled by EU workers, the most significant problem posed by Brexit has to be on staff recruitment and retention.
Other concerns expressed by hospitality staff as a result of Brexit include: potential pay decrease, possibility of working longer and unsociable hours and likelihood of experiencing skills shortages.
If we consider the optimistic side of things, holiday makers will be increasingly opting for ‘staycations’ (i.e., vacations spent at or near one’s hometown), as trips abroad become more and more expensive with the pound becoming weaker against other foreign currencies. Therefore, we can expect that a substantial amount of disposable income will be invested in the UK economy through restaurant visits and hotel stays.
Other than the potential negative and positive impacts listed above, it is important to highlight that there is still a lot of uncertainty around Brexit and its effects on the hospitality sector. According to recent studies, the majority of hospitality professionals are extremely unsure about what type of impacts Brexit could produce on the industry and on their customer numbers.
Potential solutions to minimise Brexit's negative impacts
The UK government is constantly outlining sustainable measures to cope with Britain’s intention to leave the European Union whilst limiting the negative financial implications that Brexit could produce.
Additionally, the British Hospitality Association is calling on the government to support its newly launched technical qualifications with better promotion within schools of non-academic careers (including hospitality) and to encourage to continue accessing EU workers to avoid collapse in the UK economy.
Whilst these solutions can help face shortage of staff in the short term, retaining good quality employees via lifelong learning and on-the-job training is by far recommendable.
Although the future of the hospitality industry might result uncertain after Brexit, it is very likely that the UK will stay open to migrants after leaving the EU as the European workforce represents a determinant part in the hospitality and tourism industry.
It is critical that in these times of unpredictability, hospitality companies continue to invest in accessible and affordable systems specifically tailored to monitor customer satisfaction and drive sales whilst retaining their EU workforce.