The hospitality industry witnessed a significant decline in vacancies at the end of 2023, as reported by the Office for National Statistics (ONS). The number of vacancies dropped to 112,000, a decrease from 147,000 in 2022. This reduction of 35,000 is a positive development for the sector, but experts highlight the ongoing need for further improvement to reach pre-pandemic levels of 89,000.
Kate Nicholls from UKHospitality expressed optimism: "It's encouraging news that vacancies over the past year have fallen by such a considerable amount." She attributed this progress to the sector's investment in recruitment and talent development. However, she cautioned, "We still have 23,000 more vacancies than before the pandemic, and recruitment remains a challenge, reflected in our high vacancy rate of 8%."
Given the right support, Nicholls underscores the potential for the hospitality sector to reduce vacancies further and create more jobs. She suggests reforming the Apprenticeship Levy could significantly boost skills and development opportunities. Additionally, she stresses the importance of mitigating business costs, particularly in light of the upcoming wage increase, which poses a significant concern for venue operators.
The article highlights the complex landscape of the hospitality industry as it navigates post-Covid challenges. While there is progress in reducing vacancies, the journey to fully recover to pre-pandemic levels is ongoing, with a clear need for supportive measures and reforms.
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