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HBAA backs CBI's call for visa flexibility to combat staff shortages

The Hotel Booking Agents Association (HBAA) has raised concerns about the staff shortages currently facing the UK and called for all industries hit by staff shortages to unite and press the Government for visa flexibility.

This week the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) said the Government needed to “immediately update its shortage occupations list” to include several areas where businesses are finding it difficult to recruit staff across a range of sectors.

Businesses have faced pressure to find new staff after it was revealed by the Economic Statistics Centre of Excellence that as many as 1.3m non-UK workers were estimated to have left the UK since late 2019.

“HBAA strongly believes that every industry hit by staff shortages should unite to press the government for visa flexibility,” said Juliet Price, consultant executive director of the HBAA, echoing the CBI’s remarks.

The association was also one of the signatories of a recent letter from the Event Industry Forum to the prime minister asking for a temporary ease of immigration requirements for this reason.

Price continued: “HBAA has been highlighting for many years that the UK’s reputation for high quality service in the meetings and events sector was in danger unless the imminent shortage of trained staff was addressed with government support. 

“Now our industry is one of many to be facing major threats to service delivery as the powerful combination of Brexit, lockdown, furlough and travel restrictions has created a harsh reality. Attraction and recruitment of new talent is becoming tougher and coupled twith experienced staff leaving to work in other sectors, the issue is compounded. 

 “HBAA believes that, like the Event Industry Forum, every industry sector should not only support the CBI but also directly call on the government for short-term flexibility on visa conditions to allow EU based staff back to fill some of the vacancies.”