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British workers filling more jobs in hospitality, data finds

The hotel sector experienced the smallest shift over the six-month period, however, which Fourth said is likely because the sector ‘hasn’t been able to bounce-back as quickly’

British workers are beginning to fill more numbers of job positions in pubs, restaurants and hotels “than ever before” as labour shortages continue, according to the latest figures from hospitality software provider Fourth. 

It said this trend has been consistent over the last six months, as the number of British workers in the sector continues to increase “markedly” while the proportion of EU workers has decreased.

The hotel sector experienced the smallest shift over the six-month period, however, which Fourth said is likely because the sector “hasn’t been able to bounce-back as quickly” as restaurants and pubs due to strict travel restrictions remaining in place for longer periods. 

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The proportion of British hotel workers has still grown from 57% in April to 60% currently; the number of EU workers has dropped from 28% to 24%.


The restaurant sector experienced the biggest shift, with British workers currently making up 46% of the total workforce, compared to 40% six months ago in April. The proportion of EU restaurant workers has dropped from 47% in April to 39% now.

Amongst the pub sector, British workers currently make up 73% of the workforce, increasing from 68% in April. This has been offset by a decline in workers from the EU, as they represent just 20% of the workforce now, compared to 28% in April.

The new data, from an analysis of more than 700 companies across the restaurant, pub, bar and hotel sectors, found that:

  • EU workers currently make up 32% of the hospitality workforce, compared to 42% in October 2019
  • British workers currently make up 53% of the workforce, compared to 46% in October 2019
  • Workers from non-EU countries currently make up 15% of the workforce, compared to 11% in October 2019
  • The total sector headcount is tracking in line with this time last year, but is still down 18% compared to September 2019
  • According to Fourth’s data, there has been no furlough ‘cliff edge’ when it comes to job losses; there was only a 10% increase in people leaving the sector at the end of September compared to the end of August

Fourth also found that the total staff headcount across the hospitality sector remains “stable”, tracking at the same level as this time last year (but down 18% on 2019), and has been growing “consistently” month-on-month since March. 

Sebastien Sepierre, managing director – EMEA, Fourth, said: “Given the current climate, where labour shortages are continuing to prove incredibly challenging for operators, it’s clear there is a war for talent taking place in the hospitality sector. Vacancy rates are running at record levels and it’s evident the pool of EU workers has significantly reduced. 

Technology and digital solutions play an important role in navigating these waters, helping operators hire, onboard, engage and retain team members. Businesses will ultimately have to be smart with their labour scheduling strategies to ensure consumer demand continues to be met and the guest experience doesn’t suffer.”

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