Bristol hospitality sector calls for sensible approach to immigration


May 2017: Bristol’s hospitality sector could be in line for a shortfall of staff should the main political parties’ promises to cut immigration come to fruition.

It has already been projected that the hospitality sector faces a 60,000 a year deficit of workers if immigration from Europe is controlled too tightly.

And with approximately 50 per cent of all staff who work across the city’s hotels coming from the EU has resulted in bosses and owners calling for a sensible approach to the immigration issue, otherwise they will not be able to operate!

The Conservative party’s manifesto promise to bring net immigration into the UK below 100,000 has caused particular concern, with many believing it would be virtually impossible to recruit enough staff if heavy controls are applied.

But it’s not just the hotels that will suffer but the many restaurants and bars across the city, all of whom will struggle to find people to work.

Mark Payne, chairman of the Bristol Hoteliers Association said: “It can sometimes be quite hard to recruit enough staff and the immigration proposals will make it even harder.

“The UK Government will need to see common sense and allow preferential access to EU nationals after Britain leaves the EU.

“Speaking to other general managers across the city, in some instances EU nationals account for much more than half the numbers of staff, so it’s easy to see why there is a nervousness about the whole immigration debate.

“They all contribute a great deal to the economy, are hard-working and bring their own brand of hospitality to the venues in which they work. It all leads to a very healthy mix and is what makes Bristol such a great place to visit and we do not want that to stop.”

According to Payne, presently there is an approximate ‘churn’ of staff of around 25 per cent each year, a result of the transient nature of people working in the sector. If immigration is controlled to the levels being proposed then the effervescent boss says staff levels will drop by around 20 per cent a year.

Across the UK, based on a staff turnover of 30%, the hospitality sector would need to recruit 272,000 in 2017. On top of that more people would need to be recruited based on new employment opportunities being created with the opening and expansion of new venues.

He is also keen to highlight that when looking for frontline members of staff, the hotel simply does not get, in the most part, people from Britain applying and dispels the myth that those from the EU are taking all the jobs.

Jacquie Hanson, General Manager at the MERCURE Bristol Holland House agrees.

She added: “Within the UK, the hospitality sector is the largest business sector employer of EU nationals as a proportion of total workforce.

“It means the sector has a greater reliance on EU nationals compared to other UK business sectors and means the sector will be impacted more by any change in the availability of EU labour.”

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