Hospitality sector warns about EU staff shortfall

Members of the hotel, restaurant and tourism industries have warned that the UK faces a shortfall of up to 60,000 workers a year if immigration from the European Union is restricted.

The British Hospitality Association (BHA) claims that thousands of its members are facing having to drastically reduce their dependence on EU workers.

It estimates that nearly a quarter of hospitality staff come from the EU, or around three million workers.

The BHA says that around 75 per cent of waiting staff in the UK are European, alongside 37 per cent of house-keeping staff and a quarter of all chefs.

It also predicts that it would take around 10 years to replace European staff with British staff, which includes training, targeting older workers and encouraging younger people to take jobs in the sector.

Ufi Ibrahim, head of the BHA, said: “It is clear that hospitality and tourism face major problems in recruitment if there is any major cut in the number of workers allowed to enter from the EU.

“We want to avoid there being any cliff edge but the government must be aware that in the medium to long term we will still need considerable numbers of EU workers, who have contributed so much to our industry and the UK economy in general.

“We are aware of our responsibility to encourage more UK nationals to see the career opportunities available in hospitality and tourism.

“We do need the government to play its part too, by recognising our employment needs and recognising how important this industry, the fourth largest, is to the country.”