The jobs crisis in hospitality is not just a British phenomenon. Developed countries from the United States to Germany are experiencing similar worker shortages. 

To put it further into context, it’s not simply about a lack of waiters and bar staff either. The whole world of work is being reframed.

The pandemic has scrambled labour markets, and no-one seems sure if all the pieces will go back together again.

Some difficulties may be short-lived; others may be structural. Employee support schemes, like Britain’s furlough, have yet to unwind, leaving many unwilling to leave that protection for new employment.

Conversely, others have simply taken ‘second’ jobs, and may not now return to their old positions. The problem is that no-one can be sure about the size of that challenge until they are asked to return.

In hospitality and other service sectors, dependent in part on a migrant workforce and part-timers like students, these issues are amplified by so many staff simply going home – and showing little inclination to return, at least yet.

And this is as much a problem for bar, restaurant and hotel operators in New York and Berlin as it is in London. This last point underlines the fact that although Brexit won’t have helped matters here in the UK, it is not the central problem.

There, I’ve mentioned the B-word and potentially plunged myself into a political vortex. But the truth is that this jobs crisis is complex and is unlikely to be solved by simple or single solutions – and it’s not just about politics either.

People across a range of working environments are reassessing their lifestyles and their relationship with the world of work. Do office workers really want to get back to the drudgery of the daily commute? For many, but admittedly not all, working from home has become a welcome relief.

Likewise, in the pub and restaurant world, not having to work late nights and most weekends has an appeal. Yes, hospitality can be fun and rewarding, but it shouldn’t be surprising that many, having taken an enforced break, may find the return daunting and less appealing than the life they are now leading, wherever that might be.

The pandemic, let’s not delude ourselves, has changed our world and the way people think about it.

The bottom-line is that hospitality needs a full workforce firing on all cylinders, if that’s not an outdated phrase in this green world of electric vehicles. That of course is a point in itself. To attract new generations we’ll need to frame the arguments in their terms, addressing their issues. We’ll need to listen as well as tell our stories of how wonderful restaurant and pub life can be.

That means not just improving the image of the sector, but quite probably rethinking business structures, making them more staff-centric.

Brewdog’s COO David McDowall, along with experienced marketer Mark McCulloch, is now developing a new initiative to both polish the sector’s profile and highlight best practice – and has already won the support of scores of other industry leaders.

But he knows from his own experience, in his bars in the likes of the UK, Germany and the USA, that it is going to be about more than just pay and conditions. The industry may need a major step change.

The crisis is now, but the sector needs long-term solutions. It also needs to look beyond just this industry and these shores for answers and inspiration. The jobs issue will need some serious brainwork.