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Training alert on top job shortfall

By Helen Conway

Severe shortages of skilled managers in the hospitality sector are set to worsen over the next decade unless the industry invests in training, the Hospitality Training Foundation (HTF) warned this week.

Rapid growth across most sectors over the next few years, coupled with the continuing haemorrhage of staff from the industry, will exacerbate the recruitment problem, the foundation said.

In its Employment Forecast Update 1995-2004, published this week, the HTF forecasts that as many as 400,000 new jobs could be created in the industry over the next 10 years, with the buoyant restaurant sector leading the way.

Allowing for an average 339,000 people leaving the industry each year, the report estimates there will be about 590,000 vacancies a year to 1999. Of those, 166,000 will be at craft level, and 34,000 will be at management level.

As catering colleges produce only 19% of the industry’s annual requirement for skilled staff, the HTF points out, companies will have to fill vacancies with people who lack the required qualifications.

The report states: “On current trends, an average of 90,000 people will be taking craft or managerial jobs without any external, industry-specific qualification.”

HTF director Dr Anne Walker said this was already happening and was unhealthy for the industry.

She said: “People are given a quick induction and left to sink or swim, but as a result they can become very dissatisfied with their jobs. If you train people properly they have more loyalty to their employers and more pride in their work.

“It is a downward spiral. There is a knock-on effect in terms of the service the customer receives.”

She called for increased commitment to training, adding: “If we don’t do something about it rapidly, the situation is going to get worse.”

British Hospitality Association deputy chief executive Martin Couchman said the shortage of qualified managers had not, so far, been a “live issue” for the industry.

But he added: “At the rate the industry is growing, there is no doubt that there will be a need for more managers.”

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