The situation has been further exacerbated by the Trump administration’s tightening of immigration policies. While immigrants make up about 13% of the total U.S. population, the segment accounts for a highly significant 31% of the hotel industry’s workforce. Furthermore, this talent disruption comes amidst a record hotel pipeline with over 5,647 U.S. hotels opening in the next 3 years.
Countries such as Canada, Australia, Germany, the UK and Japan are facing similar challenges in attracting talent into the hospitality sector, with an estimated combined 1 million jobs unfilled and growing, amidst a wave of hotel openings in the next few years. Canada and Australia each have over 100,000 unfilled positions in hospitality with job growth in the sector well above 25% in the next 5 years. In Germany, a country on track for its 10th straight year of growth in overnight stays, more than two-thirds of hoteliers identified the scarcity of skilled staff as their biggest problem.
Kate Nicholls, Chief Executive of Hospitality UK, recently said: “what makes Brexit so worrying for hospitality is not skill shortages, not a failure to upskill our workers, but simply a shortage of bodies available.” Japan is now implementing a plan to allow foreign nationals to apply for a technical internship training program, as part of a new blue-collar work visa program, that allows them to stay employed for a hotel for up to 5 years.
But wait, is this just the result of another economic or real estate cycle and therefore a temporary headwind facing the industry? And why should customers, investors, brands and managers care?