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Hospitality Industry Offers Big Bonuses to Plug Brexit Staffing Gaps

British hospitality firms are grappling with a severe staffing crisis, exacerbated by Brexit and the Covid-19 pandemic.

The exodus of EU workers, following stricter immigration rules, has left a significant void in roles traditionally filled by foreign labour.

A report by Trail highlights the extent of the problem, revealing a 25% drop in EU employees within the sector over the past four years. To combat this, many businesses are offering generous incentives, such as relocation bonuses and referral rewards.

Renowned restaurant chain Hawksmoor is offering up to £2,000 in bonuses for staff referrals, while others like Caravan are luring potential candidates with gift vouchers.

Calvern James, the director of hospitality management at Caterer, said firms had 'swapped the EU for Edinburgh and Essex as they become increasingly more creative in finding talent.'

He added: 'This could be a hotel in Devon advertising to workers in Scotland or a Yorkshire cafe targeting people thinking of leaving London.'

Other hospitality groups are recruiting from traditionally overlooked demographics, such as refugees, students, the homeless, and ex-offenders. 

But the crisis extends beyond mere recruitment. Industry leaders emphasise the importance of creating a positive work environment, offering opportunities for career advancement, and addressing issues like long hours and job insecurity to retain existing staff.

While temporary measures like the Youth Mobility Scheme and the Graduate Visa Scheme offer some respite, the sector is calling for more sustainable solutions. Calls are growing for the government to relax immigration restrictions and consider an Australian-style recovery visa for lower-skilled workers, crucial to the industry's revival.

As the hospitality sector navigates this challenging period, the search for both immediate and long-term solutions to the post-Brexit staffing crisis remains paramount.


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