Mental Health, Homelessness, and Low Skill Levels Revealed as Key Causes of Hospitality Unemployment Post-Covid

UK hospitality charity Springboard has revealed the most common reasons for unemployment among its trainees, with poor mental health, lack of training and development, and homelessness becoming more prevalent post-COVID.
The news comes after an extremely challenging couple of years for the hospitality industry, which has struggled through multiple lockdowns and an ongoing staff shortage despite a wealth of vacancies across the sector.

Insights from Springboard’s recent review show that more than a quarter of applicants to its employability training programmes (27%) – which aims to arm people with the skills needed to thrive in hospitality – are citing mental health afflictions as a major reason for unemployment. An increase of almost 150% since 2019, the alarming stat highlights the widespread emotional, physical, and economic issues triggered by the pandemic.

Further data shows that homelessness has increased twelvefold since 2017, with low-skilled unemployment tripling since pre-pandemic in 2019. In more positive news, those experiencing criminal conviction-related barriers have almost halved since 2019.

Chris Gamm, CEO of Springboard, said: “Our findings paint an interesting picture of the barriers to employment faced by young people since before the pandemic. We’ve seen an increase in applicants with challenging circumstances to overcome who are keen to secure work in our suffering sector. The desire to work and the talent is there, and hospitality sector businesses and leaders must accommodate the needs of jobseekers to secure the future of the sector and inspire the next generation of hospitality leaders.”

“At Springboard, we launched the ‘Springboard to 2022’ programme during the pandemic, which aims to have 10,000 young people trained and ready for work by December 2022. We are on track to have supported more than 5,000 young people into work in hospitality by the end of March 2022. Our training schemes offer young people the opportunity to develop skills across a wide range of job roles available in the industry, from the more typical front and back-of-house positions to opportunities across technology, finance, HR, and marketing. Working with our trainees, we’ve found that improving their confidence and giving them practical skills and experience can help turn things around for those with even the most difficult of circumstances.”

Harry Smalley is an example of Springboard’s fantastic work in supporting individuals overcome barriers to employment. Before securing a role as a receptionist at Georgian House Hotel, a prestigious Victorian hotel tucked away in the picturesque streets of Pimlico, Harry worked closely with Springboard to help boost his employability skills and secure interviews for accessible businesses within hospitality.

Commenting on his experience trying to find an accessible job within the sector while managing his cerebral palsy, Harry said:

“I think there is often a level of misconception about the impact cerebral palsy can have on a person’s ability to complete work – and that is simply not the case. I have repeatedly felt that I have been overlooked in interviews simply because of this. During my time training with Springboard, they understood my needs and what I wanted to get from my training – which was most important to me.

“The hospitality sector is a great place to work. It gives young people the opportunity to build a wide range of skills from communication, customer service, and cultural awareness to multi-tasking, adaptability, attention to detail, and more! It’s a great sector to be involved in if you have a passion for food and drink, culture, and customer service.

“I do still, however, believe that business and society need to be more accessible and understanding to people from all walks of life. The training I have undertaken with Springboard helped me place more faith in the businesses interviewing me. Since my training, I have secured two jobs working with a fantastic team at Red Carnation Hotel in Grosvenor Place and now at Georgian House Hotel in Pimlico. Ultimately, this experience has given me the confidence and ability to secure a fantastic job with the wonderful team at Georgian House Hotel.”

Recently, Springboard have supported more than 5,000 young people across the UK in securing work. The impressive milestone means that the charity, which aims to help 10,000 young people secure jobs in hospitality before the end of 2022, is halfway to achieving its ambitious mission.

This new initiative, ‘Springboard to 2022’, was designed to give hospitality the space and tools it needs to rebuild from the ongoing impacts of the pandemic, working as the industry solution to tackling hospitality, leisure, and tourism’s long-term staffing crisis. The team supports leading industry businesses by ensuring they have access to a skilled and engaged talent pipeline ready for the industry.