Has the restaurant and chef sector over glamourised itself?

Recruitment has been named as one of the largest challenges facing the UK companies in 2016, according to a new Business Census report of business leaders’ expectations for the year ahead.

The survey of 1,000 businesses, carried out by the due diligence website Company Check, revealed that 21 percent of respondents expect recruitment to pose a challenge for their company during this calendar year.

Businesses in the South East and London reported more concern than any other region.

Concerns over political uncertainty have also taken priority for many, with a 40 percent rise in the number declaring this as their main concern; up from 12 to 17 percent.

Political issues including the proposed increase to the National Living Wage to £7.20 for over 25 year olds in April and the EU referendum expected for June are predicted to further impact on recruitment in the food and drink industry.

Alastair Campbell, founder of Company Check and author of the report, said: “The Business Census is intended to provide a snapshot of the state of UK businesses at the start of the year. It’s unsurprising that recruitment remains a top concern, with an increase in reported political uncertainties such as the impending EU referendum and the growing security concerns both impacting on companies’ ability to attract and retain staff.”

Olivia Reid, Commercial and Marketing Manager, at vegetarian restaurant Terre à Terre, said: “We’re suffering from a national and international shortage of chefs – this industry is going crazy with growth and the pool of qualified candidates is not growing at the same speed, but could the issue also be a possible lack of training, motivation, or even worse could it be a real lack of interest in the job itself.

“The increase in the National Living Wage will have an impact on floor staff and very junior chefs; while it’s going to put pressure on all hospitality businesses, it’s worth reminding customers that the overall wage costs in the sector are a higher percentage compared to many other industries.”

When reporting on growth, respondents from the food and drink industry were the most negative of all the sectors, with nearly half of respondents stating flat or no growth in 2015.

The Business Census questioned people working across the UK economy, with participants taken from professional services, manufacturing, construction, retail, finance, food and drink and healthcare.

“Inevitably there is a fear that jobs could be lost due to businesses slimming down their workforce to save money or else they will pass the cost on to the consumer by raising prices – which in turn could put people off visiting, also resulting in potential job losses, creating something of a vicious circle,” said Craig Allen, Co-founder of The Change Group.

“But, it is not all bad news: The National Living Wage will of course improve the lives of workers and we all know a happy workforce is a good workforce. It could also improve staff retention for low-skilled jobs and attract more people to consider a career in hospitality due to the higher pay rates.”

Founder of the Brew Café, Jason Wells, added: “The introduction of the increased National Living Wage will see the hospitality sector transform into a desirable place to work, rather than to make ends meet, and while a Brexit would change restaurant recruitment in the sense that it would drive more young UK residents into the hospitality sector.”

Almost three quarters expect their business to grow this year, with that growth expected to most likely come from marketing (38 percent), followed by production (34 percent), finance (19 percent) and HR (seven percent).





Rebecca joined the HRreview editorial team in January 2016. After graduating from the University of Sheffield Hallam in 2013 with a BA in English Literature, Rebecca has spent five years working in print and online journalism in Manchester and London. In the past she has been part of the editorial teams at Sleeper and Dezeen and has founded her own arts collective.