Brexit has already led to a crippling shortage of quality candidates for jobs in tourism in the UK, according to business leaders.
Speaking on a panel at the UKinbound Convention, Karen Robertson, managing director of Jac Travel, said staffing was “becoming critical”, with many of her foreign language-speaking employees having left the UK.
“Some employees from Germany and France are now working remotely for us, so we can retain their skills. It’s not ideal, but what choice do you have when you only get one application [for a vacancy]?” she asked.
Kyle Haughton, managing director of City Cruises, said: “Two or three years ago I had people from EU countries working for me who spoke two or three languages and had a great customer service ethic. Now I have to employ ‘Jane from Bermondsey’ who won’t turn up on time, doesn’t have the right attitude, and can’t speak any other languages – and I have to pay her more.
“More and more businesses will move their operations to [countries such as] Romania where they can get better-educated people,” he insisted.
Kelly Strong, managing director of Strong Recruitment, said looking at response to vacancies listed on the major jobs boards in the sector painted an overwhelming picture of the impact of Brexit.
“Eight years ago, you’d get 1,000 applicants in a week, including at least six or seven candidates who’d already worked in tourism. Now, you’re lucky to get three or four responses,” she reported.
Strong added that anyone who believed an increase in students taking foreign languages at university would lead to more candidates for tourism jobs was “in denial”.
“They won’t be attracted to tourism roles; we might offer them £17,000 as a starting salary – any other industry starts graduates on £25,000,” she said.