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Signs of recovery emerge in the hospitality sector



It’s not an understatement to say that COVID has wreaked havoc on the hospitality sector in the last 12 months. But as our vaccine programme in the UK makes continued progress and our cautious roadmap out of lockdown begins, what is the hiring market really like and what challenges and opportunities lie ahead?


Speaking to those in the industry on a daily basis, I am repeatedly hearing phrases like “it’s going to be like the roaring twenties” as hospitality and the wider economy fully re-opens for business post COVID. Yes, there is some nervousness and caution from both clients and candidates, which is understandable. But overall, the feeling I am getting is one of positivity and excitement.


There is a massive opportunity for companies that have restructured and shrunk their estate to start again much leaner and with improved social media and systems etc. in place - this puts them in a great position to take advantage of the pending boom in trade. And no doubt lessons will have been learnt from past over-expansion, including taking on high unsustainable rents and poor locations.


So, where is the market now? I am seeing new brands and concepts fresh to the UK emerge from overseas, start-up restaurant and coffee shop businesses, companies talking about expansion, new openings that were put on hold now gearing up to re-open and vacant premises being taken over. This is all incredibly positive and reassuring news. Plus, with much cheaper rent and lease deals to be had it is a fantastic, possibly once-in-a-lifetime, opportunity for businesses.


I am now seeing and speaking to more and more candidates who are securing interviews and being offered jobs, which is incredible after the last year. I can see a time in the not very distant future where, once again, finding the best talent will prove challenging.


Many clients are concerned about not being able to attract great people. The general feeling is that the never-ending pool of Europeans has now come to an end with Brexit now complete. It is of course still possible to recruit talent from Europe, but to hire outside of the UK, a company must now apply to be a sponsorship holder. They can then apply for a sponsor license and there are strict guidelines in place that puts the onus on the employer being responsible for the candidate. This legislation came into effect on the 31st December. Many concerns also included the huge exit of talent into other industries and sourcing junior members of staff. Those looking to hire the best talent will need to move swiftly and ensure they have competitive packages on offer whilst also being open to hiring those with transferable skills from other sectors.


The positive signs of green shoots are there, with over 18,000 hospitality jobs now being advertised in the UK. I am getting busier and having great conversations with clients and candidates, so we are very much moving in the right direction and it is great to see.


If you would like to talk to me about hiring a hospitality professional or are looking for your next role, then please don’t hesitate to get in touch.


Penny




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