The statistics are clear: the hospitality industry is one of the fastest growing industries in the UK, which by 2017 will require a workforce of 2.1 million, including 49,700 skilled roles and 246,300 managers.
At the same time, the pool of young people entering the workplace is decreasing by 60,000 and the opportunity to recruit from abroad is becoming less viable.
How is the industry going to fill the shortfall in staff? In the hotel sector alone demand is set to explode this year. Earlier this week the new Four Seasons Hotel London opened its doors with a tally of 437 staff, and in the coming months we will see the launch of W, Waldorf Astoria Syon Park, Corinthia and St Pancras Renaissance - all requiring hundreds of staff to ensure they provide the five-star service they intend to offer.
Now, after many years in the doldrums, apprenticeships are being revived and are seen as a key means of creating a skilled and motivated workforce. Companies like Barcelo Hotels, Compass and KFC all say that apprenticeships have helped them retain people by offering them career development and greater confidence, while saving money on recruitment costs.
People 1st wants to encourage more hospitality companies to recognise the benefits to be gained by establishing apprenticeships, and aims to increase them from the current number of 22,000 to 30,000 a year by 2020, as well as raising the completion rates to 80%.
As we move towards the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics, with the opportunities they will offer to showcase British hospitality, now is the time to make apprenticeships the cornerstone of your company's recruitment and training programme.