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People 1st report highlights ongoing skills shortfall

Written by:
People 1st report highlights ongoing skills shortfall
Written by:

After a tough year of recession, freezing weather and volcano ash, Brian Wisdom, chief executive of hospitality Sector Skills Council People 1st, reports on the state of the hospitality industry as the State of the Nation 2010 report is published.

It has been a mixed 12 months for businesses operating in the hospitality, leisure, travel and tourism sector. Many have continued to experience difficulties, particularly those dependent on the corporate market and those located in areas hard hit by job losses. And no one could have predicted that a volcano in Iceland could have had such a devastating affect on the travel industry.

However, businesses in the fast food, branded pub, budget hotel, self-catering accommodation and visitor attraction sectors have performed comparatively well.

Encouragingly, businesses appear not to have made large-scale redundancies, preferring to reduce hours and hang on to skilled staff. They also do not appear to have significantly cut the amount of training they provide, although how they provide this training may have changed in order to reduce costs.

These trends should put the sector in a strong position to take advantage of the upturn when it fully kicks in.

Yet there is still a lot to be done. We need to focus on improving skills in the priority areas of management and leadership, customer service and chef skills through joint collaboration between Government and industry.

Despite the recession, employers are still reporting difficulties in recruiting chefs. Clearly it is important to increase the quality and supply of new recruits. However, addressing the shortage is not just about attracting skilled new recruits, but also about retaining the workforce that we already have. Statistics show that chefs stay with employers offering training for an average of 6.5 years, compared with 4.4 years for those who don’t offer training – something that could really have an impact on the bottom line of a business.

This “golden decade of sporting events” presents a significant opportunity to invest in raising customer-service skills and creating a legacy for tourism. The importance to the future success of the sector of highly skilled managers is also unquestionable. With the sector predicted to require an additional 58,000 managers by 2017 and 50% of current managers not possessing managerial-level qualifications, there is much work to be done.

Looking into the future, the sector is projected to grow, and we need to continue to work collaboratively to take forward the National Skills Strategy for England and Sector Skills Action Plans for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to ensure future success for the industry and the economy as a whole.

A full copy of People 1st’s State of the Nation 2010 report is available for £50 plus VAT from www.people1st.co.uk/stateofthenation.

View a PDF file of the original article from Caterer and Hotelkeeper, including graphs and tables >>

By Neil Gerrard

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