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18th August 2022

Almost 200,000 international workers leave hospitality industry

Written by: Edward Waddell
As many as 196,000 international workers have left the UK hospitality sector since the Covid-19 pandemic according to a new report from hospitality hiring partner

The report, which surveyed 250 hospitality employers from around the UK, reveals the changing demographic makeup of a sector which has for so long relied on an EU workforce.

This latest report shows the proportion of European workers has continued to shrink and as many as 120,000 have now left the UK’s hospitality sector. More than 70,000 workers from other international countries have also dropped out of the workforce.’s report has found that while 61% of hospitality employers are registered to hire internationally, immigration policies are deterring 89% from hiring overseas.

Barriers include lack of visa flexibility or availability (42%), unclear and changing guidelines from the government (38%) and associated costs such as visas (34%). Over a quarter (27%) of hospitality employers are not confident that they would know how to sponsor an international worker.  

The report shows early signs of UK workers being inspired to join the sector, with 25% of hospitality businesses seeing an increase in local candidates.

Kathy Dyball, director at, commented: “The hospitality sector is experiencing a sustained and severe labour crisis which is impacting its ability to thrive and limiting its potential contribution to the UK economy.

“Making chefs eligible for skilled worker status was good start, however our report suggests this is yet to have a significant impact and highlights that the immigration system is unclear, with employers facing barriers when it comes to hiring overseas.

“However, it’s great to see an increase in homegrown talent entering the sector, and it’s now vital to continue to drive this by tapping into different talent pools throughout the UK.”