New figures from the Office for National Statistics show that there were 112,000 vacancies in hospitality at the end of 2023, down from 147,000 at the same time in 2022. Current vacancies remain far higher than pre-pandemic levels, when there were 89,000.

UKHospitality continues to call for measures that further enhance the sector’s ability to invest and develop its staff, primarily through reform of the Apprenticeship Levy. The ever-rising cost burden for businesses also needs to be addressed, which is critical ahead of the National Living Wage increase in April.

Kate Nicholls, Chief Executive of UKHospitality, said:
“It’s encouraging news that vacancies over the past year have fallen by such a considerable amount. Hospitality businesses have invested heavily in their recruitment and how they develop their own talent – this progress is testament to their work.

“However, there is still much more to do. We still have 23,000 more vacancies than before the pandemic and recruitment is still challenging. It’s why our vacancy rate remains high at 8%.

“Hospitality can continue to drive down vacancies and create more jobs, if we are supported to do so. Reform of the Apprenticeship Levy would allow businesses to enhance their skills and development offering even further and is something the entire economy is supportive of.

“What’s incredibly pressing is reducing the cost burden for venues, which continues to be the driver of closures. The National Living Wage increase in April is at the forefront of everyone’s mind right now and measures to reduce business costs are critical to help venues with the increase wage cost this brings.”