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UK Hospitality Strategy

Government’s hospitality strategy ignores today only looking to tomorrows

Government’s ‘strategy’ to flood hospitality with young, inexperienced, unemployed people totally ignores the here and now of hospitality’s tragedy.

This so called ‘strategy’ is devoid of any recognition that hospitality is on fire, and needs dousing, now, not repeats of the same unproductive Job Centre recruitment drives of years gone by.

The pandemic continues to decimate hospitality, every day sees more businesses forced to close, and more jobs lost. Hospitality like other industries did not cause the pandemic, but suffers from it. The government’s responsibility is to compensate hospitality for losses to date and minimise obstacles to recover. Meaningful and measurable urgent action is required now, not at some indefinable point in the future.

Reopening began on 12 April, immediately hampered by government policy created on the hoof accompanied by countless U-turns with a good sprinkling of mixed messaging for good measure.

Now, reports of consumers diminishing patience with hospitality’s reduced front of house resources are growing. How long people are waiting, and mistakes made with service are provoking the ever more extreme ire of disgruntled customers.

The people on the receiving end more often than not are young waitresses and waiters new to hospitality. Unprepared for dealing with such situations as they lack the experience to do so. They are also unprepared to suffer the indignity, and remove themselves from the firing line. And rightly so. The very people government see as hospitality’s solution.

The deficiencies of ending the free movement of people need to be recognised, by government, and by hospitality.

Government of course will not, despite all evidence to the contrary, instead they continue with efforts to brainwash you into accepting it is good for business. If there were some elusive benefit to it, surely it would have been unveiled by now.

Some in hospitality continue to politely look the other way, making a little noise but not so much as to inconvenience or disrupt government’s tune.

Government’s tune being their recently produced ‘strategy’ for hospitality, or possibly more aptly named strategy for the unemployed.

Hospitality like all industries needs a balance of experienced people operating it and new people training to in future. Hospitality’s good fortune pre-Brexit was that it attracted people from all over the world to work within it at all levels and across all sectors. A diverse mix that enhanced hospitality.

Pre-Brexit the UK hospitality industry enjoyed a significant proportion of staff being EU Nationals, 12 -24% of hospitality’s total workforce. Regions and sectors varied with waiters and waitresses that were EU Nationals in London making up 75% of the total workforce. Many of the jobs were temporary and taken by transient workers, some moved on and some stayed, seeding a constant inflow of talent that was part of how hospitality grew organically. No more, that has been removed.

The removal of this process seeing people develop and grow in an industry they want to be a part of replaced rudely with laws shaped purely by the employee’s nationality.

The world defines hospitality as: Noun – The friendly and generous reception and entertainment of guests, visitors, or strangers. Maybe in the UK we need to now add, except working with them.

Government are being asked to address this subject in a cross party parliamentary debate. If you have been politely looking the other way to date, please change that by signing a petition today to at least ask if non UK nationals can return to work in hospitality.

The original version of this article was first published in Hospitality & Catering News

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