First Dates’ Fred Sireix calls for action on staffing crisis

First Dates’ Fred Sireix has penned an open letter to the government calling for greater action to tackle the industry’s staffing problem.

The Channel 4 star and former general manager of Galvin at the Windows has called for “real change” in 2020 after “no visible action” has been taken to help fix the staffing crisis.

Sireix points to the growing vacancy rate of 4% in the UK and estimates that currently there are around 128,000 vacancies in the hospitality and tourism industry.

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The letter reads: “The profession I chose has rarely been respected, valued or appreciated. It’s a historical problem. A hundred years ago catering staff were the least respected staff working in private households. And the public at large still sees it as an industry made up of masters and servants.

“As a result parents, teachers and school advisers do not consider hospitality a worthwhile career option; professional education is not funded adequately; and catering colleges across the country are closing daily or operating under very difficult or tight training constraints.”

It continues: “How are we supposed to train, teach and inspire and motivate the next generation of professionals in these conditions? The sad truth is that hospitality is a forgotten profession. It is simply and totally out of most people’s mind or just thought of as a job for students on a gap year, one for school failures or one for cheap foreigner labour.

“If we look at government figures for food and drink service and accommodation then there is currently a vacancy rate of 4%, meaning that there are currently 90,000 vacancies. If you extrapolate that to the wider hospitality and tourism industry, which employs 3.2 million people then that means there are 128,000 job vacancies in the UK.”

Sireix added that the problem lies with the “perception” of the industry and that the “professionals, the professional bodies, the education system, the government, need to work together to start a movement and give reasons for people to love hospitality”.

He continued: “Over the years there have been countless meetings, conferences, promises and quite frankly and very frustratingly much ado about nothing – with no visible actions on the ground. This needs to change from 2020.

“I’m therefore calling on a coalition of the willing to put in place a plan, a strategy and to start a movement that will change the status quo and make hospitality not only the leading UK industry but the envy of the world.”

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