Watch the webinar
- Rain Newton-Smith, Chief Economist, CBI
- Sarah Green, Chief Executive, NewcastleGateshead Initiative
- Ian Kielty, Chief Operating Officer, Wincanton
- Ceri Thomas, Editor and Partner, Tortoise Media (chair)
In this session:
- The last seven days have been a tricky time, as we have seen challenges around rising infection rates and we want to learn the lessons from what we have seen.
- However, there are a lot of successful aspects to build on, such as the successful opening so far, a strong vaccine roll-out, and a good testing capacity.
- Nevertheless, the emerging “pingdemic” has posed a huge and unsustainable challenge. The CBI is calling on government to bring forward the date of August 16th where fully vaccinated individuals can be exempt from isolating, and to use all of testing capacity to use a test & release scheme.
- In addition, the government should bring forward the rule for exemptions. There are currently 16 sectors that qualify for the exemption for staff to isolate if they have been double-vaccinated.
- In terms of skills shortages, the CBI is having conversations with the government to revisit the skills shortages list and to simplify the process of reviewing these lists.
- Drivers are where staff shortages are the most acute, due to the "pingdemic", but also due to the results of Brexit.
- The company is seeing an increase in staff forced to self-isolate, and the exemptions that are made are cumbersome to follow. As a result, it is important to bring forward the date of August 16th.
- The company maintains a similar level of safety measures, as it continues to implement social distancing measures amongst other precautions. However, within the parameters of government guidelines, the firm has allowed more freedom for individual sites to decide what measures to upkeep.
- Many of the disciplines have been maintained, so the work environment feels similar to the one prior to July 19th.
- On testing: what has worked really well is the availability of home testing, and would suggest to continue to provide lateral flow tests to individuals. However, these schemes are voluntary, so uptake has been varied.
- The great news is that there has been a rise in demand in the hospitality sector, nearly back to pre-pandemic levels. However, some restaurants and hotels are unable to open on certain days as they do not have enough staff to open throughout the week. This is a result of both the "pingdemic" and structural staff shortage issues.
- The key area of reopening that has not moved as fast as you would expect is business occupancy. In addition, business events and business travel need to return soon, as these bring in a lot of footfall.
- There is an 18% inflation in hospitality and tourism jobs already happening. The key question is how to make careers in hospitality long-term options, rather than being “in-between” jobs or jobs individuals do before starting their careers.