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UK and non-EU workers plugging London’s hospitality recruitment gap

Published:  06 March, 2019

Workers from the UK and outside the UK are picking up the slack from the declining number of EU nationals applying to work in hospitality jobs in the UK.

New data shows that while EU applicants still account for around half of applications to work in London’s top bars and restaurants, this number slid 8.5% in 2018.

At the same time, the number of Britons applying for the same jobs rose by almost 19%, while those from people originating from non-EU countries increased by 36%.

Jim O’Brien, director of luxury hospitality recruiter, The Change Group, which supplied the data, said it was encouraging that the shortfall was being absorbed by Britons and non-EU nationals, as “Brexit is having a real impact” on the number of people from the EU looking for work in the UK.

Total registrations over the past year also rose an encouraging 4.4%.

But despite this, the UK hospitality sector’s staffing situation “remains very difficult”.

“Many restaurants are still struggling to get the people they need to fill positions, often after many months of trying to recruit. It is vital in these final stages of negotiation that the government focuses on an immigration policy that will ensure free movement of talented, skilled employees from all parts of the world, to support vital industries such as hospitality,” O’Brien said.

The subject of pay further complicates the picture.

Although more British workers are applying for jobs in premium restaurants and bars, their annual salary has dipped 3.4% over the past year.

At the same time, average take-home for EU employees in the industry has increased by 8.5% - possibly as a result of clinching more senior roles.

“We can see much greater nationality diversity in who is taking senior roles at London’s top hospitality establishments,” O’Brien said. “This accounts for much of the levelling out of salaries between employees from different nationalities in 2018, which we think is a good thing. It is important that people from all countries can enjoy the same opportunities that Britons enjoy when working in hospitality in London.”

According to The Change Group, there is now very little difference between what employees from the UK, the EU and other countries are paid.

The average salary of a UK hospitality worker sits at just over £31,000.