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Spike in EU workers entering the hospitality industry

There has been an increase in EU workers entering the hospitality industry during November, with the number of EU entrants increasing to 44% according to global software firm Fourth.

The news comes after several months of declining numbers, with new EU entrants to the industry falling from 41.5% in July, to 38.5% in September.

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The driving force behind this growth has been an influx of seasonal workers to the pub industry. Over the last four months the makeup of the pub workforce has remained relatively flat with 78% of workers from the UK, 17% from the EU, and 5% from the Rest of the World (ROW).

However, November saw a marked increase in the proportion of EU workers in the pub industry, with figures altering to 68% from the UK, 26% from the EU and 6% from the ROW. Interestingly, these figures directly correlate to a surge of EU workers experienced this June, which suggests that seasonal workers from the EU support the pub trade when it enters a busy period, such as Christmas or a large sporting event.

During August and September there was also surge in new starters from the UK, with figures rising to 54.5% in September (up from 52% in July). November figures show this trend has also reverted with 47% of new starters coming from the UK; and 8.5% from the ROW.

The number of UK workers leaving the industry fell to 48% in November, after rising to 55.5% in September. Meanwhile, the number of EU workers leaving the industry increased to 42% in November, after falling to 37.5% in September; while leavers from the ROW increased slightly to 8.5% in November, up from 7% in September.

The group said the increase in new starters from the EU is “welcome news” for the hospitality industry which is heavily reliant on foreign workers. The statistics reveal that, as of November 2018, 42% of workers in the restaurant, QSR (quick service restaurants/fast food), hotel and pub sectors are from the EU. British workers make up 48% (down from 50% in July) and the remaining 10% come from the ROW.

From a regional perspective, the hospitality industry’s reliance on EU workers is “significantly exacerbated” in London with 52% of the workforce from the EU. The figures also show Northern Ireland and east of England are also very reliant on EU workers representing 46% and 45% of the workforce, respectively.

Mike Shipley, analytics and insight solutions director at Fourth, said: “Against an uncertain political backdrop as to the future of the free movement of labour from the European Union, it is welcome news to see there has been an influx of EU workers entering the industry, after several months of falling numbers.

“In this uncertain environment, at the very least, operators need to have a clear understanding of the make up of their workforce. In addition, with the high churn of workers in the industry, making your business an attractive prospect for employee and ensuring you have maximised efficiencies across your management of people and product is key.”

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