The Mid Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce is calling for further support for the hospitality industry following the impact of Brexit and the Covid-19 pandemic, which has left the sector short on skilled staff.

Multiple lockdowns and the closure of hospitality venues throughout the pandemic has seen many people lose work or be placed on furlough. Some have left the industry altogether and have re-trained for other jobs.

The pandemic, coupled with the effects of the Brexit transition on the availability of foreign workers, means the hospitality sector faces a challenging period as demand and expectation to “bounce back” rises.

Davide Garbarino, managing director of Huddersfield-based recruitment consultancy HoReCa, said: “Lockdown has driven people back to their own countries to wait out the pandemic and therefore, they have missed out on job opportunities.

“For example, there has been a boom of pizzerias opening during lockdown, but many experienced pizza chefs who went back to Italy will now find it extremely difficult to return.

“Brexit, and the new rules for the European community, has made it difficult to find staff, especially now that ‘chef’ has been removed from the Occupation Code list. Because many wanting to work in hospitality are mainly from European countries, and with the sponsor system and the 70-point scheme, it will be extremely difficult and time consuming for employers to recruit experienced staff from other countries.

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“There is an unfair perception in some quarters that hospitality jobs are merely a ‘stop-gap’, or ‘something to do’ at weekends, with workers having no intention of making it a long-term career.

“But with the restrictions now in place dictating how firms can recruit from Europe, there needs to be more incentive and training for people living in the UK to want to work and, more importantly, build a career in hospitality, to help the industry get back to what it once was.

“Now we are at the point where hospitality businesses may have to close an extra day, or open on reduced hours, because they can’t rotate the staff that they have. I saw an offer going for £20 an hour plus tips with two days off a week, and they still aren’t able to find staff for these roles.”

Martin Hathaway, managing director of the Huddersfield-based Mid Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce, added: “The hospitality industry is now beginning to reopen, and expectations of a quick bounce back are rife.

“The sector is responsible for millions of jobs, generating hundreds of billions of pounds, and plays a key role in the Yorkshire economy and that of the wider nation.

“More must be done to assist in its recovery, and to create accessible, desirable jobs within the sector that ensure the longevity of our hospitality businesses.”

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