Hoteliers seek to plug 3,000-vacancy gap caused by Brexit and COVID-19

Adrian Ellis

Manchester’s hotel bosses are embarking on a recruitment drive to fill the labour gaps created by Brexit and the coronavirus pandemic.

They will be targeting students and young people to inspire them to join the industry which is currently struggling to fill more than 3,000 vacancies across Manchester’s hospitality sector.

Adrian Ellis, general manager of the Lowry Hotel and chair of the Manchester Hoteliers’ Association (MHA), said: “Across Greater Manchester, hoteliers are facing huge difficulties with an excess of vacancies across all job roles – from waiting staff to housekeeping to head chef positions. The supply problem is a big challenge and here at the MHA we are determined to take real action to resolve the issue.”

The Lowry Hotel, despite being one of the city’s most iconic five-star hotels, currently has 25 vacancies it is seeking to fill – a statistic echoed across all hotels in the Greater Manchester conurbation.

Adrian cites both Brexit and the effects of the pandemic in explaining why the industry is facing such recruitment issues: “Brexit has resulted in a large amount of hospitality’s European workforce no longer being able to work in the UK, diminishing the volume of available workers considerably.

“Additionally, lots of hospitality workers, having been on furlough over the pandemic, have sought secondary career paths. Now, faced with the uncertainty of pandemic life, they have chosen not to return to the sector.

“These two factors have made a huge impact and have created challenges for hoteliers across the Greater Manchester city region.”

In response to the recruitment challenges, the MHA, a non-profit organisation of the key hotels within the city centre and the Greater Manchester area, is taking action to convince people to join the vibrant and dynamic hospitality sector.

This work includes the MHA’s extensive outreach work with universities, colleges, and schools across the conurbation, in which they seek to imbue enthusiasm for the sector in young people in Manchester.

Throughout the pandemic, the MHA, in partnership with Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU), has been running its Pioneering Manchester hotel mentoring scheme. The initiative sees 12 BA (Hons) Hospitality Business Management students paired with general managers of some of the city’s biggest and best hotels.

The MHA also hosts hospitality student forums, entitled Keep the Faith in Hospitality. Initially, the forums were held in Manchester for 50 MMU student attendees, with the aim to keep students updated on what was happening in the industry throughout such uncertain times.

Due to the great success the forums have now expanded to become UK wide, with more than 250 students, registered from universities up and down the country, attending.

Additionally, the MHA is supporting PROGRESS21, a three-day event which seeks to promote careers, business and global investment in Manchester, that has now been postponed to September 2021.The MHA will be represented in PROGRESS21’s job fair, promoting the exciting hospitality sector.

On top of PROGRESS21, the MHA is also set to embark on a recruitment campaign, in partnership with Marketing Manchester, which is forecast to provide a momentous boost in interest in the hotel industry.

Adrian Ellis added: “Through the proactive measures that we are taking at the MHA we seek to tackle this issue head on and demonstrate to people across Greater Manchester how brilliant a career in hospitality can be.

“We are committed to truly making an impact and are excited to continue demonstrating how working within the hospitality sector is a rewarding prospect that offers an abundance of opportunities for career development.

“Our sector is the beating heart of Manchester, and, as such, is an incredibly inspiring industry to work in.”