Are job vacancies creating a crisis in hospitality?

With hundreds of jobs posted online every week, the struggle to fill hospitality vacancies is causing concern for workers and bosses in Cardiff

The Mackintosh pub in Cathays is one of many pubs facing a crisis.
Pubs are struggling to attract and retain staff. Photo George Phillips

The hospitality sector has been described as “pretty dire” by a local bar worker, while pub managers say they are constantly hiring staff.

We all enjoy visiting the vast range of pubs and restaurants Cardiff has to offer but behind the cover of delicious food and drink, the hospitality sector is facing a crisis. Staff are complaining of poor working conditions, managers struggling to fill vacancies and pubs shutting at an alarming rate. 

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has estimated in the last six months, an average of 148 hospitality vacancies across the UK are being posted online every week, with only wholesale and retail showing more in the same period. This is up from the average figure of 136 in the six months between September 2022 and March 2023 – an increase of 8.8%. 

A pub manager in Canton, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “We have a regular turnover of staff in the pub, most don’t stay longer than a few months”, adding that they’re interviewing “every couple of weeks”. 

John Williams, a bar worker, said: “The industry is pretty dire to be honest”. Williams praised the industry for improving his skills and confidence but was worried that local pubs closing down, after being priced out by bigger chains, meant that Cardiff was “losing its community spirit”. He said a lot of workers see hospitality as a short-term job that is easy to get into. He believed workers would stay if they were paid more, calling for a £15 p/h minimum wage and urged workers to join a union. 

Businesses are trialing unconventional ways of retaining staff. Earlier this year, Heaneys restaurant in Cardiff started providing staff with reduced-price accommodation. Its owner said this had helped attract more workers from outside the area and improved retainment.