Stratford Herald: Brexit Adds Pressure on Local Hotels

Reprinted in full from this Thursday’s edition of the Stratford Herald, see link below.

“The Brexit vote is heaping yet more pressure on Stratford’s hospitality industry as local hotels struggle to recruit staff.

Hotels in Stratford are already experiencing difficulties in recruiting staff, but there are fears that leaving the Europe may discourage EU workers from wanting to work in Britain’s hotels or tempt existing workers to leave.

Some have suggested that worries over the fall in value of the pound and uncertainty over the rights of EU workers could make Britain a less attractive destination to work.

With Stratford’s heavy reliance on tourism, the impact of leaving Europe may be felt particularly hard here.

The problem for local hotels is two-fold though as fewer local residents are interested in following a career in hospitality.

Helen Peters, chief executive at Shakespeare’s England, said: “There was definitely as skills shortage that existed in Stratford before the Brexit vote, but that has certainly not helped the situation. We have very low levels of unemployment in Coventry and Warwickshire and a large number of workers within the hospitality industry are from EU countries. There is so much uncertainty surrounding things like the future status of EU nationals in Britain that some of these workers may choose to work elsewhere within the EU.

“There have also been challenges recruiting locally which is why we are working with Warwickshire County Council to provide skills grants to those who would like to pursue a career in hospitality.

“I think people sometimes have this opinion that the hospitality industry is a bit fluffy, but hotels need marketing departments, people to work in accounts and all sorts of different roles, there are a wide variety of skills needed and we are working to encourage young people to consider a career in hospitality or the visitor economy.”

Larry Coltman, chairman of the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce, also recognises the problem.

He said: “There is certainly a drop off now in applications from EU applicants and insufficient home grown workers to replace any who leave.

“The big problem is fear amongst EU workers of what they will face in two years’ time. Some hotel groups have offered assistance both financial and practical in applying for citizenship now to avoid any problems then.”

Josephine Blomqvist, manager of Stratford’s Arden Hotel, said: “There is an ongoing problem with recruitment in Stratford and I think most of the hotels in the town would probably tell you the same thing. A considerable part of the workforce is made up of European workers and if we don’t have access to these people in a few years’ time it will create further problems for us. For some roles there is not a great interest from the local community, maybe because some of these jobs are low skilled.

“Stratford’s hospitality industry is not alone in experiencing these problems, it is an issue that affects the whole country. Hotels are working with Warwickshire County Council to encourage more young people to consider a career in hospitality, there’s a lot of opportunities for travel and you develop multiple skills.”

Joe Baconnet, director at Stratforward, added: “Like in all industries, good, committed staff are the lifeblood of our businesses. We’re committed to lobbying and supporting the measures being put in place to help our businesses recruit those good, committed staff.

“Our hospitality industry provides a lot of potential career routes for individuals with different skill sets, particularly those that want to get on. As a career, it’s also hugely transferable around the globe.”

There might be some good news for the hospitality industry locally though, with Warwickshire College Group unveiling plans to convert Moreton Hall at Moreton Morrell into a £7million hotel training school last month.

Such a facility could help encourage more local youngsters to consider a career in the industry.”

Brexit adds to the pressures on Stratford hotels

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