Around a third (30%) of hospitality businesses have reported that job vacancies are harder to fill than normal, with the sector more than twice as likely to be suffering shortages than other industries, according to a report from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

However two fifths of British businesses are struggling to find workers as challenges with recruitment are felt throughout the economy.

The ONS found that 41% of businesses with 10 or more staff had found it difficult to fill vacancies in the two weeks to 5 September – up from 32% in early August. In the transport and storage sector, for example, 15% of businesses were struggling to fill jobs.

Earlier this week data from the ONS revealed that vacancies had reached a record high, driven by staffing issues in the hospitality sector, with the number of job vacancies in between June to August this year reaching 1.03m. Vacancies within the hospitality sector were up 59% on pre-pandemic levels over the summer.

Official estimates suggest that around 100,000 EU citizens left the UK during the pandemic, with the migrant workforce yet to recover to its pre-pandemic size, The Times reported. In addition there are almost two million people who are still on furlough and high levels of economic inactivity among young people, who are disproportionately represented in hospitality jobs.

Of all businesses that were experiencing recruitment challenges, one in four (25%) said that a reduced number of EU applicants was a factor. This rises to almost one in two (46%) transport and storage businesses, the highest of any sector, found the report.