9% of hospitality jobs unfilled despite fewer vacancies

27 March, 2023

According to data from Office for National Statistics (ONS), the UK saw a decrease of 51,000 job vacancies between December 2022 and February 2023 compared to the previous three months. However, the number of vacancies still remains high at 1.12 million.

This announcement was made at the same time as UKHospitality CEO, Kate Nichols revealed that the hospitality industry is facing growth limitations due to the fact that 9% of available jobs in the sector remain vacant, despite a surge in job creation.

The latest period marks the eighth consecutive decrease in job vacancies, and this trend is attributed to the economic pressures that businesses face, which has resulted in uncertainty across different industries.

This is reflected in the responses of survey participants who have cited economic pressures as a key factor in their decision to hold back on recruitment.

Kate Nicholls commented:

"Good to see record numbers of jobs being created in hospitality in today's figures - a timely reminder of our importance socially, culturally and economically. As we grow and recover we can support more people into meaningful careers and invest in people and places.

While it is good news vacancy rates continue to fall, there are still more than 1m across economy and 9% jobs unfilled in hospitality is holding back growth. With the right support in tomorrow's Budget, we can address that and turbo charge back to work opportunities."

"It's encouraging that there's a slight fall in vacancies but they remain stubbornly high, still 56% higher than pre-pandemic levels.

These persistent shortages continue to force venues to reduce trading hours and days, impacting their growth potential.

To fully harness what hospitality can offer to the nation and economy, we need to see Government action at the Budget to tackle these ongoing vacancies.

Commitments to reform the apprenticeship levy and make changes to the immigration system to make it easier to recruit would be a clear message the Government backs hospitality to power economic recovery."

Michael Kill, the Night-Time Industries Association chief executive, added:

"Despite the challenges, the night-time economy remains a significant employment sector to the UK economy and has an important role to play in its recovery.

The industry still suffers from significant staff shortages and high vacancy rates, suggesting growth is still being held back despite the new jobs created in the past year."

Additionally, Kill pointed out that the night-time economy has been among the hardest hit due to the pandemic's impact on the sector.

According to him, in 2018, the night-time sector had provided 425,000 jobs in 38,000 businesses in the UK, but this had decreased to 392,000 jobs in 34,000 firms in 2021. However, he expects a robust recovery with an estimated increase to over 400,000 jobs and 35,500 businesses.

Michael Kill said:

"As we head further into a cost-of-living crisis despite the bounce back in some business sector jobs and firm numbers, consumer spend, sector income, productivity and profitability, continue to struggle.

This suggests the industry is operating on ever smaller margins and a large proportion of firms are in 'survive' rather than 'thrive' mode - employing staff to operate but having to exist with much lower income and low (or no) margins."

Moreover, as stated by the British Institute of Keeping (BII), pubs will remain a sector that is well-known for creating job opportunities for people.

BII chief executive Steve Alton commented:

"Pubs can and will be a powerhouse of job creation, offering flexible, skilled employment across all demographics.

The recent ONS statistics bear this out, however, we need the right support from Government to allow us the opportunity to grow and thrive against a challenging economic backdrop.

Our sector offers professional development and rapid career growth like no other sector, in every village, town and city, and will be key to levelling up and economic recovery across the whole of the UK."

Furthermore, an analysis made by the ONS revealed that the UK employment rate was estimated to be 75.7% during November 2022 to January 2023, which is 0.1 percentage points higher than the preceding three-month period. This translates to an increase of 98,000 jobs, with the revised January 2023 figures showing a total of 30 million jobs. The rise in employment during this period was primarily due to an increase in part-time employees and self-employed workers.

During November 2022 to January 2023, employees in the UK experienced a growth of 5.7% in their average total pay, including bonuses, while the growth in regular pay, which excludes bonuses, was even higher at 6.5%.

The private sector saw an even higher average growth rate of 7% in regular pay during November 2022 to January 2023, while the public sector's average regular pay growth was 4.8% during the same period.

It's worth noting that when adjusted for inflation, growth in both total and regular pay experienced a decline compared to the same period the previous year. Specifically, there was a 3.2% decrease in real total pay and a 2.4% decrease in real regular pay during November 2022 to January 2023.

Although a larger fall in real total pay was last recorded in February to April 2009, with a 4.5% decline, this decline is still considered one of the largest since comparable records began in 2001.

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