Staff shortages remain a ”significant challenge” for hospitality businesses, according to UKHospitality (UKH), as new data from the Office for National Statisitics (ONS) shows vacancies across the sector have risen again this quarter. 

The trade body is urging government to commit to scale up ongoing hospitality skills pilot schemes currently running with the Department for Work and Pensions, which they say could reduce vacancies. 

New ONS data yesterday (October 17), shows vacancies in accommodation and food service activities increased to 121,000, after five months of consecutive decreases -  more than 30,000 above pre-pandemic levels.

UKHospitality Chief Executive Kate Nicholls said this surprise increase in vacancies, demonstrates the fluctuations that remain in the labour market and the need for action to help businesses get people into work.

UKH is calling for a reform the Apprenticeship Levy to allow 25% of funds to be used for non-apprenticeship training as well as an investigation into the Youth Mobility Scheme agreements with a range of European nations.

“As the third largest employer in the UK, implementing these measures will unlock thousands of job opportunities. Not only is hospitality well placed to kickstart someone’s career but it can help bring people back into the workforce too, providing a key solution to an economy-wide challenge,” added Nicholls. 

“Government action in these areas would be a clear signal it is prepared to help businesses resolve a key issue, as well as keeping venues at the heart of their communities thriving,” she said.