Hospitality employers have been told to stop ‘relying on unskilled and migrant workers’ and invest in quality training for their existing staff if they want to survive the recession.
A new report by sector skills council People 1st entitled ‘State of the Nation 2009’ predicts that businesses will have a stronger chance of seeing through the economic downturn if they invest in the right people with the right skills.
It found that while two-thirds of businesses already invest in staff training and a quarter plan to increase their training despite the recession, 51 per cent plan to cut back on training to save money, a move People 1st chief executive Brian Wisdom describes as ‘a false economy.’
“This is not a viable business strategy for long-term growth,” he said. “Now more than ever it’s important that those entering the sector are equipped with the skills the industry needs. Companies that grow their staff and provide good value for money without compromising on quality should be in pole position when the economy picks up.”
The hospitality industry was found to have the highest staff turnover rate than any other sector (31 per cent in 2008), with 17 per cent of employers claiming the problem directly impacted on their business’s productivity. However, People 1st found that those employers that invested in apprenticeships as a form of training recouped the cost within a year, saw a dramatically reduced staff turnover rate and increased productivity.
A fifth of all sector vacancies were found to be hard to fill due to a lack of skilled applicants, with the main difficulties surrounding the recruitment of chefs.
“We’ve seen an increase in the number of employers saying their chefs lack the needed culinary skills to do their jobs,” said Martin Christian-Kent, director of research at People 1st. “There’s an increasing demand from consumers who require that chefs be able to cook to a high standard, instead of just being handy with a microwave or deep fat fryer.”
The report also found that the hospitality, leisure, travel and tourism sector has had a sustained period of growth over the past 30 years, with the total number of sector employees now standing at around two million. This figure is expected to grow by a further 10 per cent by 2017, when initiatives to help meet labour and skill needs for the 2012 Olympic Games will be in place.
These include new customer service and hospitality qualifications, the introduction of the London Employer Accord, which helps employers access a local supply of skilled workers, and the Personal Best programme, which helps unemployed or unskilled people find employment in the sector.