As they ready to reopen, British eateries short on staff: Survey

A switch to more secure jobs and an exodus of foreign workers have exacerbated a staff shortage, a survey found.

There are more than 10 jobs on offer for every jobseeker in some cities [File: Henry Nicholls/Reuters]

British businesses ramped up their search for new staff as pubs, restaurants and other hospitality and travel firms got ready for Monday’s lifting of coronavirus restrictions in England, a survey showed.

But an exodus of foreign workers is aggravating a shortage of candidates, with more than 10 jobs on offer for every jobseeker in some cities, according to the survey by job search website Adzuna.

Job adverts on Adzuna jumped to 987,800 in the first week of May, up by 18 percent from the end of March, which was before the reopening of non-essential retailers and hospitality firms for outdoor service on April 12.

A further lifting of restrictions to allow pubs and restaurants to serve customers indoors takes place in England on Monday.

Adzuna said companies seeking to hire included pub firms Whitbread, Stonegate Pub Company and JD Wetherspoons, restaurant chains Nando’s and Pizza Express, Marriott hotels and airline Ryanair.

However, a lot of workers had given up on looking for hospitality and retail jobs in favour of more secure work after three lockdowns in the past year, it said.

“There are also far fewer foreign workers seeking employment in the UK with overseas interest in UK jobs more than halving from before the pandemic, hitting these industries hard,” Andrew Hunter, a co-founder of Adzuna, said.

Adzuna said 250,000 fewer jobseekers from western Europe and North America applied for work in the United Kingdom per month between February and April than before the pandemic.

“UK employers can no longer rely on overseas workers to plug employment gaps,” Hunter said.

Employment gaps

A combination of Brexit and the coronavirus pandemic are believed to have cut the number of foreign workers in Britain.

Britain’s statistics office estimates the number of non-UK nationals employed in the country in the last three months of 2020 fell by 4 percent from the same period of 2019 to 4.22 million, based on tax data, compared with a 2.6 percent fall for UK nationals to 24 million.

Adzuna said there were 13 jobs on offer for each jobseeker in Manchester while the ratio in Cambridge and Oxford stood at 11. In Maidstone, southeast England, there were 20 jobs for every jobseeker.

The shortage of workers is not unique to Britain. Hospitality firms in parts of the United States have said their holiday seasons are threatened by a lack of staff, echoing recent problems in Australia.

A feared surge in job losses in Britain has not happened, thanks largely to a massive public jobs subsidy scheme. That furlough scheme is due to be phased out over the summer before ending in September.

A separate survey showed British employers were the most optimistic about hiring since 2013 and basic pay expectations were set to increase from 1 percent to 2 percent in the next 12 months.

The survey by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development of more than 1,000 employers also found that redundancy intentions had returned to pre-pandemic levels.

“Despite the evident optimism in this quarter’s survey, it remains likely that  such strong employment growth will soften during the course of  2021,” said Gerwyn Davies, senior labour market adviser at the CIPD.

Source: Reuters