As part of the UK government’s ‘Hospitality Strategy’, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy took the initiative to establish a Hospitality Council.
The newly formed council includes representatives from Nando’s (Chief Executive Colin Hill), Starbucks (UK General Manager Alex Rayner) and Mowgli’s (Nisha Katona). Small Business Minister Paul Scully has commented:
“The hospitality industry has shown incredible creativity and resourcefulness through the pandemic, pivoting to new ways of doing business like al fresco dining and takeaway pints to stay safe, meet changing consumer demands and protect livelihoods.
With the launch of this council, we’re taking the next step in the journey to build back better from the pandemic by unveiling the experts who’ll be driving the reopening, recovery and resilience of the sector.”
Hospitality is the UK’s third largest private sector employer. It accounts for £130bn in economic activity and employs directly 2.9m people, with an estimated further 2.8m people employed indirectly. According to UKHospitality, the sector contributes to the exchequer in the region of £38bn in taxation.
As the above figures suggest, closer attention to the sector’s recent problems by the government is well overdue. In order to reverse the effects of Covid-19, the labour shortages and boost the hospitality sector, industry champions assembled by the Hospitality Council have a tough ask ahead of them.
While the effects of Covid-related lockdowns are being overturned gradually, continued government support will be vital in providing new opportunities, funding expenses and rolling out schemes to combat labour shortages and encourage people to apply for jobs in the sector. As Brexit has also introduced side-effects to the industry, this presents further challenges, which the Hospitality Council will have to answer.
For instance, regarding the amount of EU employees that won’t be able to make up the appropriate workforce for the food and drinks manufacturing and transport/supply chains. The provision of service sectors are not sufficient to service the demand, so the Council has the task of replenishing the sector’s workforce to an appropriate state.
One of the key words here is ‘appropriate’. Common misapprehension about the hospitality industry in some quarters is that anyone could work in hospitality, therefore the workforce should not be a problem, however this is not the case. There are many hospitality vacancies that can be filled by low-skilled labour, but there are many vacancies where there is a lot of training and development required.
Short-term labour shortages are being addressed alongside medium to long-term culture change, with improved training and development within hospitality. The Hospitality Strategy has encouraged al fresco dining, for instance, by making pavement licences permanent and extending takeaway pints until September 2022 to increase sales.
It has also added hospitality and catering qualifications to Free Courses for Jobs, meaning adults can achieve qualifications in professional cookery, food and beverage supervision and more. There is also a Kickstart and Sector-based Work Academy Programme (SWAP) designed to fill hospitality vacancies and a ‘Help to Grow: Management’ course that is 90% subsidised by the government.
Beyond this, there is continued Covid recovery and growth support with fairer business rates, taxation, duty system and other issues that the Hospitality Council will have to address. The government wants the UK’s hospitality industry to land back on its feet and is certainly putting in the work behind the scenes to ensure that this is possible.
If you require advice on the process of recovery for your hospitality business or would like to know more about ways that you can make improvements, contact Hotel and Leisure Management Consultants Mario Ovsenjak (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Nicola Trew (email@example.com) on +44 (0)843 515 8686 or via our contact form.