Greetings from our wee brewery in Ellon, in the north-east of Scotland. I wouldn’t normally shout about this type of stuff, but this one has really got me…..

Last week was quite a week for the UK hospitality sector. On Tuesday, the new government policy on immigration was announced by Priti Patel, giving us a first glimpse at the details of the new points-based system for people from other countries to come and live and work in the UK.

We may just have heard a piece of news that will have more impact on the future of our industry than almost anything else we have heard over the last few decades…. It will impact many other industries also of course, but perhaps selfishly, after speaking to dozens of people in our teams last week (BrewDog benefits from having crew members from over 40 different countries), I’ve not been able to stop thinking about the impact on our own sector in the years ahead.

The Hospitality industry in the UK, is not only the third largest private employer in the country, and subsequently an absolutely essential cornerstone of our entire economy, it also creates thousands of spaces where we celebrate, and benefit from, the skills and experience of talented people from an abundance of different nations. Thus, giving people in our country millions of opportunities every year to interact with people from other backgrounds, nationalities and who have a diverse range of different views, perspectives and experiences. Hospitality is an awesome antidote to the nationalist, anti-immigrant rhetoric that is turning us into a nation that is more and more removed from a world that should be getting smaller, not more divided.

HOWEVER, the Conservative government’s newly announced points-based system will now do a brilliant job of destroying that. Firstly because we will eventually have a far less diverse and multicultural group of people working in (and growing great careers in) our hospitality industry, and secondly (crucially!!) because we will close restaurants, bars and cafes around the country in their droves as they buckle under the weight of an unsustainable workforce availability crisis.

One brilliant thing happened this week though. Voices from all over our industry, led fearlessly by Kate Nicholls, CEO of trade body UK Hospitality, spoke out in shock and disbelief about this topic and there was a resounding public response also, speaking out in support of us as we tried to publicly get our heads around the fact that the businesses that we have all worked hard to build, were now faced with a crisis that could make it damn near impossible to grow in this sector in the UK in the years ahead. Never mind the fact that it will now be even more tough than it already is simply for businesses to survive, and to continue to support the 3 million people who live and support their families as a result of their careers in hospitality. I heard operators talk eloquently about how we had to fight even harder than ever to change perceptions of our industry as an employer and how we should do even more to generate belief in young people that they can build fruitful, lifelong careers from entering hospitality. All of these things are absolutely right, and this was the case well before we heard the news last week, as many have been battling hard for years to change perceptions of career opportunities in the sector (within a regulatory framework that is extremely hostile to hospitality). However, we are now fighting that battle with both hands tied behind our back as opposed to just one.

I, and the other directors here at BrewDog, still work shifts behind our bars and with our packaging teams and other front line teams and departments, as part of our “Dogs on Deck” programme, designed to ensure that the people who are leading the strategic decision making in our business, never make those decisions without a clear understanding of what is happening closest to our customers. These shifts are powerful, insightful, exciting, and restorative experiences for me, and I would run a far less successful business and team without that programme in place. Wouldn’t it be fun to see Priti, or Boris, attempting to handle a “low-skilled” Dogs on Deck shift in a BrewDog bar, or work a shift in a Hawksmoor, a Pret, a Wagamama, or any of the other awesome hospitality sector businesses out there, that rely on a passionate, driven, experienced and SKILLED workforce, day in and day out.

We work within a vibrant, determined, resilient and resourceful community. We will no doubt find a way. But the UK government just made it harder than ever by quite some way…. let’s make sure that last week’s noise and fury at this news, from all corners of our fabulous hospitality industry, is amplified hard in the weeks and months ahead. We simply have to try.

Onwards.

Dave