As the Brexit debate rumbles on hospitality employers continue to face instability and uncertainty as they look to the future. If the sector is to continue to grow, then businesses will need to continue to recruit and, given the sustained high levels of employment in the UK, some of these employees are going to come from beyond our borders.

Helping the Government understand the challenges and opportunities faced by hospitality businesses is one of the functions of UKHospitality and, as part of our armoury to achieve this, we have established the Hospitality Workforce 2030 Commission. The Commission brings together a broad range of hospitality employers with Parliamentarians and other industry leaders and stakeholders. The aim is to provide evidence to identify and address the challenges and opportunities currently being faced in hospitality with a report on the Commission’s findings due later in the year. It is hoped that this work will provide both the sector and policy-makers with effective data and guidance to enable them to promote careers and skills in the sector benefitting recruitment, retention and diversity.

The first session took place in early May with mobility, retention and the need to better promote jobs in our sector being highlighted as key concerns for employers. Delegates discussed the stigma to which the sector, sadly, continues to find itself attached, and what can be done to challenge and change perceptions of an industry that offers opportunities and rewarding careers, but is often seen as a stop-gap. Speakers also discussed the Apprenticeship Levy and the need for a balanced evidence-based immigration system. A number of the speakers highlighted their disappointment that the catering and hospitality T level will not be introduced until 2022 and called on the Government to bring it forward.

There was also positive discussion about the benefits of highlighting real-life case studies to engage potential employers and the need for national campaigns to increase visibility, awareness and potential of the industry.

The second session will be held on 12 June and will examine the diversity of the hospitality workforce. The session will examine the sector’s ability to offer enhanced support and career opportunities for hospitality employees. It is vital that employees looking to develop a career within hospitality are aware of the opportunities on offer and the potential of the sector.

It is also vital that Parliamentarians and those outside the sector are aware of the opportunities and that hospitality is viewed as a viable career for young people. The second session will be co-chaired by Liz Saville Roberts MP, Vice-Chair of the APPG for Tourism and Hospitality Industry in Wales and Michael Tomlinson MP, Chair of the APPG on Youth Employment.

We are encouraging the entire hospitality sector to get behind the Commission and help support the promotion of jobs in the sector. UKHospitality is accepting written evidence and a staff questionnaire is available online to help provide the insight and evidence we need to challenge perceptions, inform politicians and continue to support hospitality businesses. And if you’d like to attend to give evidence, please get in touch!