UKHospitality: Vacancies filled

Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UKHospitality, reflects on some recent actual good news, and looks forward to the industry body’s forthcoming Workforce and Skills Event.

New figures published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) reveal that vacancies in our sector have fallen by 35,000. Yep, some good news at last. The ONS numbers show that there were 112,000 hospitality vacancies at the end of last year, down from 147,000 12 months earlier.

This is testament to hospitality businesses’ heavy investment in recruitment, along with their development of existing talent. All very encouraging, then, and welcome progress indeed.

But – hey, we’re in hospitality, there’s always a ‘but’ – with 23,000 more vacancies than pre-Covid and recruitment still a challenge, this industry’s 8% vacancy rate remains high. Therefore, UKHospitality is continuing its calls for measures that will promote investment and staff development by operators, and we believe reform of the Apprenticeship Levy is a prime way to achieve this.

At the same time, our sector’s ever-increasing costs must also be addressed and fast, ahead of April’s National Living Wage increase. Because feedback from members suggests that the National Living Wage rise is hospitality businesses’ key concern right now, given the increased wage costs it’s set to bring.

The timing of the UKHospitality Workforce and Skills Event 2024 would appear to be perfect, then, taking place as it does on 28th February at London’s De Vere Grand Connaught Rooms. Bringing the sector together to share experiences, learn from experts and receive updates on the workforce and skills landscape, it’s a full day conference with a programme focusing on the five key areas our workforce strategy has pinpointed as integral to solving the issues faced by hospitality. They are recruitment, skills and training, working lives, the sector’s image and infrastructure.

With dramatic changes on the horizon for the workforce, skills and education landscape, UKHospitality’s work with the government means we’re able to present an agenda that’ll help you prepare for those changes. Employment minister Jo Churchill MP will give the keynote address, outlining Department for Work and Pensions initiatives aimed at assisting people back into work. Crucially for our sector, hospitality has been recognised by government as an industry that’s fundamental to achieving this, resulting in schemes being run in partnership with UKHospitality that encourage people back to the workplace.

Other speakers include representatives from Sodexo UK, Brewhouse & Kitchen, Wells & Co, immigration experts Boyes Turner, the leading think-tank Resolution Foundation and the Lime Wood Group, as well as the mental health expert David Beeney. They and others will examine the evolving labour market and changing working practices; the dos and don’ts of recruitment and how to attract the best staff; changes to the immigration system; helping people with learning disabilities to enter the workplace; understanding mental health and managing resilience; what hospitality can expect from a Labour government; how the new Hospitality Skills Passport will transform recruitment; creating future leaders through new hospitality degree apprenticeships; and changing the culture of hospitality.

It’s going to be a busy day and, we hope, one that will equip those businesses that attend with the tools and knowledge they need to be better prepared for the workforce challenges that lie ahead. Because while those latest ONS figures are clearly encouraging, our sector must be ready to clear some rather big and rapidly approaching workforce hurdles.

For full details and to book your tickets, please visit

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