York bars and cafes face recruitment challenge (From York Press)

YORK’S booming hospitality industry is facing its toughest ever challenge in recruiting staff – with fears that Brexit may worsen the problems.

More than a score of city centre cafes, bars, restaurants and pubs currently have adverts in their windows for a range of jobs including chefs, waiters, bartenders, kitchen assistants and baristas.

Owners and managers say the problems are being caused by a range of factors, including the rapid expansion in the number of such businesses, EU nationals returning home, the high cost of renting properties in York, the city’s very low unemployment rate, university students returning home for their summer holidays and Brexit concerns.

Sam Robinson, landlord of Thirteen Thirty One, a bar, restaurant and cinema in Grape Lane, said his worst problem was in recruiting chefs. “I advertised for 18 months and got one application,” he said.

He believed some people from Eastern Europe were returning home because they could get work in new industries being created there, and he felt any restrictions on EU nationals working in the UK because of Brexit would make York’s problems worse.

Graham Usher, manager of the Monk Bar Hotel and chairman of the York Hoteliers’ Association, said the whole hospitality industry, and also the retail and care industries, were struggling to recruit staff, partly because of almost zero unemployment in York.

He said tourism now formed up to 40 per cent of the city’s economy and the association was hoping to work with destination management organisation Make it York to tackle the problem.

Steve Brown, managing director of Make It York, said a variety of issues were currently affecting hospitality and recruitment, from concerns about Brexit to a shortage of people entering the sector as a career.

“This is a problem being mirrored across the UK and is particularly noticeable in York, due to the growth of the city’s tourism sector,” he said. “We are very aware of the problem and our business support team is working with key partners such as the York Hoteliers Association, to help find solutions.”

He said a campaign was in the pipeline to attract talent into York from across the UK, and he was especially keen to appeal to talented chefs. “York has a thriving restaurant scene and top quality hotels and it’s crucial we attract the very best people to work here.

“The activity will include dedicated marketing support and we’ll also be searching out hospitality careers events where we can promote careers in the city’s booming hospitality sector. We’re also considering a new awards event to raise the profile of the sector in York.”

Jobcentres spokeswoman Natalie Liddell said they were aware of increasing demand in this sector in York, and had successfully supported employers including The Hilton, Carluccio’s and The Grand with recruitment.

“We regularly check windows when out in the city centre for vacancies and provide our customers with a list of current vacancies,” she added.

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