So many factors are contributing to the crippling skills shortages we’re all experiencing in the hospitality industry right now. The reason behind the shortages are always up for debate, but Brexit has certainly had an impact on businesses that were relying on overseas staff – particularly those from the EU.
Filling casual, lower-skilled roles with staff from the UK isn’t always easy. Filling higher-skilled roles is also a challenge for many hospitality businesses. However, did you know that the process of applying for a Worker Sponsor License has been made easier since Brexit? These licenses can help you to attract and bring in skilled staff from abroad to help ease the burden on your staff rotas, for good!
How bad is the skills shortage crisis?
February 2022 figures from the Office for National Statistics found that there are over 400,000 vacancies in the hospitality industry. Trade body UKHospitality’s CEO Kate Nicholls explained: “Vacancies in our industry are now double (up 102%) what they were before the pandemic, and there has been a fundamental shift in the labour market and hospitality must address that quickly.
The rise in vacancies is despite an increase in the general levels of employment in the UK. Meanwhile, hospitality firms are rightly worried that the shortage of staff will hamper the sector’s recovery despite the fact that Covid restrictions have been removed and things should be returning to normal.
The ‘fundamental shift in the labour market’ that Nicholls talks about may be referring to the fact that it’s now much harder to employ lower-skilled workers from EU countries. These workers can no longer come to live in the UK and take up lower-paid, lower-skilled work and remain here indefinitely. But there may be an easier route to bringing skilled staff over from other countries to fill roles in your business – using the Worker Sponsor License
What is a Worker Sponsor License?
A Worker Sponsor License is something a hospitality business can apply for, which will help them to sponsor overseas staff to come to the UK to fill specific vacancies. Most people don’t realise that the process of applying for and being granted a Worker Sponsor License has been simplified and made less restrictive.
Any business can apply, providing they are registered with Companies House, are registered as an employer with HMRC and is actively trading.
Most importantly, businesses wanting a worker sponsor license no longer have to undertake a ‘Resident Labour Market Test’ to be granted a worker sponsor licence. In fact, these have been scrapped entirely for hospitality businesses, after much campaigning from within the sector.
How do you apply for a worker sponsor license?
The first stage is to check your business is eligible and that the roles you want to fill are also eligible through the UK Visas and Immigration website. If you’re eligible, you can apply online. Fees are payable for a worker sponsorship license, and they total upwards of £500 for small businesses, rising to nearly £1,500 for larger businesses. However, if you think your business could benefit from the ability to sponsor skilled overseas staff, this could be a very small price to pay.
What other solutions are there to the skills shortages?
If you’ve decided to apply for a Worker Sponsor License to help you attract skilled workers from overseas, then great! There are also more immediate solutions and ways to reduce the pressure on your existing skeleton staff.
Bringing in a digital menu provider, like Leslie, can help your front of house and kitchen run more smoothly. It can empower the staff you have working each shift by reducing the need for waiters to bring menus, take orders and upsell. Customers can request bills through their mobile device and even order more drinks and sides. Staff can be better utilised across your business, helping in the kitchen, in the bar and creating a friendlier, more personalised atmosphere in your front of house space.
If you’re expecting to struggle with staff shortages as the demand from customers increases over the coming months, there are solutions. Whether you review your menu and ordering system to introduce a digital ordering/on-table ordering system, or apply for a Worker Sponsor License, with a little ingenuity, you can make sure you’re ready and waiting to meet and greet the crowds as they return to your venue.