Jon-Paul Davies, director of Nottinghamshire-based Heritage Estates, has echoed the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) in urging those in power to prioritise the implementation of new apprenticeship schemes across the hospitality sector.
He said: “The recession had a nationwide impact on apprenticeships and training schemes across the whole industry. As businesses were forced to cut back, it was these areas which were first to suffer. As a result, many venues went under and there was a distinct lack of focus on bringing fresh talent into hospitality.
“Smaller businesses had no choice but to tighten the purse-strings and this has now resulted in an inevitable skills shortage within the industry.
“I believe we need to give opportunities to apprentices to become the leading hospitality figures of tomorrow. With around 1.9m people still unemployed in the UK, the hospitality industry is in a great position to help more people into work. A widespread creation of apprenticeship schemes would be perfect for this and also help nurture hospitality talent from a young age.”
Davies cited the apprenticeship scheme at Heritage Estates, which owns Cockliffe Country House Hotel in Nottinghamshire and Kelham House Country Manor near Newark-on-Trent, as being a success with apprentices going on to be offered full-time, permanent positions.
Apprenticeships are not entirely off the political radar. The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills recently approved new apprenticeship standards for hospitality designed to expand the range of options available to young people.
However, the WTTC has warned that failure to significantly tackle the industry skills shortage could result in the sector employing 352,000 fewer people and contributing £17bn less to the UK economy over the next ten years, compared to current forecasts.