Change needed to tackle hospitality skills shortage

By Melodie Michel contact

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Skill, Learning

Hospitality businesses need to address recruitment issues in order to tackle a skills shortage
Hospitality businesses need to address recruitment issues in order to tackle a skills shortage
Hospitality and tourism businesses need to review their recruitment and retention strategies in order to tackle a skilled staff shortage in the sector, according to People 1st.

The skills development charity has released three policy insight reports looking at trends and challenges in hospitality recruitment, as well as how the sector can increase productivity through improved skills.

The reports, which coincide with the first meeting of the Tourism Council, reveal that the UK hospitality industry’s productivity is marginally lower than those of France and the US for example, adding that this could be attributed to skill shortages​ and skill gaps for managers – a major concern in the tourism sector.

High staff turnover

The industry needs to recruit 215,000 people into skilled roles by 2020 – meaning skilled workers will represent just over a quarter of the sector’s recruitment in the next six years, and 20 per cent (34,072 businesses) of employers reported that their current staff did not have sufficient skills to meet their business needs. This results in a bigger workload for other staff, and sometimes loss of custom to competition.

Moreover, despite recent investment in training and development, the sector suffers from a higher staff turnover than other industries. At 20 per cent, the number is decreasing (it was 30 per cent in 2008), but it is still impeding the sector’s efforts to tackle the skills issue.

For example, training budgets are being directed at initial training rather than towards areas where skill gaps have been identified.

Diverse workforce

As a response, People 1st​ advises the industry to recruit a more diverse workforce, by making senior posts more accessible to women and recruiting older workers for example.

To improve training and retention, the charity suggests keeping in mind that it needs to: address specific and measurable business needs and therefore have the support and active participation of managers to help the learner before and after the training; be appropriate and delivered in a way that meets an individual’s preferred learning style; and be followed through in the workplace, with the learner empowered to put their learning into practice.

Finally, People 1st​ recommended making use of new technologies to improve productivity, for example through online bookings and check-ins for hotels.

2020 target

According to the organisation, the UK’s tourism sector will need to recruit 843,000 staff by 2020, which is going to be even more difficult as unemployment continues to decline.

Martin-Christian Kent, executive director at People 1st, said: “We really need to look at how we can address the challenges we face and the creation of the Tourism Council provides an great opportunity for both employers and government to work together to come up with solutions, which is why we’re wholeheartedly behind such a move.

“That’s why, in addition to offering an overview of the challenges we face, we’ve included practical solutions to address these issues, which in many cases reflect what some employers are successfully doing.”

People_1st_Policy_Insight_3 - infographic 1

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