The scale of the staff recruitment challenge facing the county’s tourism and hospitality sector has doubled within a month, new data suggests.
Cumbria Tourisms latest survey results show 68 per cent of businesses now say recruitment of staff is a significant problem, up from 34 per cent just over a month ago.
Business responses from across the sector and across the county reveal that 73 per cent cite a lack of applicants and 44 per cent report skills shortages as being a significant problem going forward. A lack of staff is limiting business capacity for 63 per cent of businesses, as well as impacting on profitability (61 per cent).
“Cumbria’s recruitment crisis has been growing for several years and as the visitor economy opens up after months of lockdown it is visibly affecting the sector’s recovery,” said Gill Haigh, Cumbria Tourism’s managing director.
Firms across Cumbria have taken a variety of steps to mitigate the challenge, including increasing salaries, improving shift patterns, offering accommodation and a whole range of additional benefits, the tourism body said.
“Businesses are already taking major steps to mitigate the issue but with such a small working-age population across a large and vibrant county it is more apparent than ever that more needs to be done at county and Government level to quickly address this crisis and allow businesses to recover and grow,” said Gill.
Although Cumbria’s recruitment challenge is not a new issue, the problem is exacerbated by several factors including:
- Staff moving on during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Post-Brexit immigration policy changes removing many overseas workers’ rights to work in the UK.
- Current travel restrictions preventing those who can legally work in the country being able to return.
- Many businesses hiring at the same time.
- Lack of affordable housing.
- Infrastructure and public transport difficulties.
“Our research highlights that the number of businesses considering this a major issue has doubled in just a few weeks,” continued Gill.
Cumbria Tourism will be sharing its latest evidence with MPs, Government and other national industry lobbying bodies to help raise this issue at the highest levels.
They are also working alongside partners to show showcase the wide and varied career opportunities on offer. The body is also exploring options with the Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership to identify short-term measures to the immediate issue, as well as longer-term strategies with its strategic partner the University of Cumbria and other key organisations.
Cumbria Tourism has also recently become a Kickstart Gateway, providing support and assistance to businesses by facilitating Government-funded work placements for under 25s to better connect the visitor economy with those seeking employment.