The Food Programme podcast

A Personnel Problem: What's the solution to hospitality's staffing crisis?

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The hospitality sector has a problem: it just can't get the staff. Businesses from bars to hotels are facing a massive worker shortage, as job vacancies in the sector hit their highest levels since records began. Last month, in an open letter to the government, various hospitality professionals warned that the sector was “close to imploding” because of acute labour shortages. And the cracks are showing, as outlets still struggling post-lockdown are forced to resort to a skeleton staff: reducing opening hours or even closing altogether. While some blame the pandemic and others point to a drop in EU workers after Brexit, figures from the Office for National Statistics suggest the industry was struggling to find and retain staff even before these events. So what’s at the heart of this crisis – and more importantly, how can we fix it? Sheila Dillon assembles a panel of hospitality insiders to find out: talking to Kate Nicholls, chief executive of the national trade organisation UKHospitality; Sarah John, the founder and director of Boss Brewing, a craft brewery based in Swansea; and Niall McKenna, chef and owner of James Street & Co restaurant group in Belfast, comprising two restaurants and a cookery school. We also hear from chef and restaurateur Angela Hartnett on how kitchen culture is changing for the better; and Samantha Evans and Shauna Guinn - co-founders of the Hang Fire Southern Kitchen in Barry, Wales - tell us about their decision to close permanently because of staff shortages. Presented by Sheila Dillon Produced by Lucy Taylor in Bristol

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