'Perfect storm' of Brexit and Covid creating jobs crisis across hospitality sector – St Helens Star

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St Helens 18°c
The hospitality industry has seen job shortages across the country
THE HOSPITALITY sector has been experiencing rising worker shortages over the last few months, with a local trader describing this as the “number one issue across the industry”.
Complications with Brexit is said to have instigated problems for the hospitality industry, with ‘lower-skilled’ migrants finding it more difficult to live and work in the country.
With the hospitality industry heavily populated by this demographic, this has created a knock-on effect with huge vacancies within the sector.
The stop-start 18 months of the pandemic has only exacerbated these problems, with many people, particularly in the younger generation, working and studying from home, or still on furlough.
The ‘pingdemic’ as it has been referred has also caused immense complications, with high numbers of staff members forced into self-isolation at any given moment.
At a national committee meeting with independent businesses and chains within the food and drink sector, local business owner, Marc Faulkner, said job shortages was the “number one issue across the industry”.
St Helens Star: One of Marc's businesses, Dentons Deli, in Denton's GreenOne of Marc’s businesses, Dentons Deli, in Denton’s Green
Marc, manager of The Deli Group which has three sandwich and coffee shops across St Helens and Newton, explained that there are shortages right across the industry, from till-workers and service staff, to manufacturers and heavy good vehicle drivers.
This often brings production to a halt, with staff struggling to keep up with consumer demand.
Self-isolation has also caused difficulties to Marc’s businesses, with more than half of his 22 employees isolating at one period of time.
Marc, from Newton-le-Willows, said: “Brexit and Covid have created the perfect storm.
“Either of these situations would be challenging [but combined] there are just not enough people for jobs.
“People can’t come over on visas, especially lower-skilled workers, as the hospitality and manufacturing industries just don’t pay enough.”
St Helens Star: Due to complications with Brexit and Covid, there have been job shortages across the hospitality industryDue to complications with Brexit and Covid, there have been job shortages across the hospitality industry
Dave Tully, an accountant which liaises with numerous hospitality clients, said he has seen the problem of job shortages in St Helens and across the country.
He said: “It seems to be getting harder to find hospitality staff and to keep them, especially as workers can get a wage increase from other hospitality places due to supply and demand.
“It’s a multifaceted problem, made worse by Covid restrictions and Brexit.
“There have been a lot of pressure on waiting-on staff, reduced economic migrants coming into the country, and less students in university towns.”
Paul Whittaker, owner of TANK bar on Westfield Street, has experienced similar difficulties.
Although customers have thankfully returned after the loosening of Covid restrictions, this has not been the same with workers, with Paul currently on the lookout for bar staff.
St Helens Star: TANK bar on Westfield Street has struggled to fill job vacanciesTANK bar on Westfield Street has struggled to fill job vacancies
Offering his opinion on the job shortages, Paul said: “I think the lack of staff is due to people finding jobs during lockdown. I have had this happen to myself where two members of staff have found jobs with more sociable hours for the same rate of pay.”
While Paul is enjoying serving customers without restrictions once again, he explained it is difficult managing the bar with just two staff members at present.
He added: “My concern is with the current state of Westfield Street itself. It’s very alarming that BAR Java and Punch Tarmey’s have both been shut for twoyears now.”
As more students and workers return to town and city centres, and the end of the furlough scheme coming at the end of the month, it is hoped that there will be improvements with vacancies within the hospitality industry.
However, with the devastating double impact of Brexit and Covid making problems worse for an industry that often offers long and unsociable hours, it is predicted it may take a long while to recover.
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