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Can hospitality business afford to cut training spend?

22 May 2009 by

A survey of 1,300 hospitality employers by Sector Skills Council People 1st has revealed that 51% are planning to cut training budgets. Daniel Thomas asked experts their views.

JANE SUNLEY
Managing director, HR consultancy Learnpurple

"In our experience, organisations that have maintained or increased their training are the ones who seem to be weathering the recession better than others. Is it a coincidence or just indicative of the fact that they have well-run businesses all round and wouldn't consider dropping such an important part of their business activity?

"When the economy picks up, anyone who's not up to speed is going to miss out. Skills shortages never go away and research shows that when looking for a new role, one of the key criteria for applicants is development opportunities.

"Unless businesses have really good, well-structured development options, then the best applicants simply won't be interested in them. And employers won't be able to assure them otherwise - they'll be asking their friends on internet forums before they even meet the employer."

ANDREW MCKENZIE
Managing director, the Vineyard at Stockcross, and chairman of the Master Innholders

"It would be naïve approach not to review training and development in light of reducing revenues, but this should not mean axing it.

"In difficult times, we expect our teams to change their working practices, sometimes operate with less resources and perhaps deal with new products and within different markets. To do that without investment in training is business suicide. Management and supervisors need to be armed with new skills to manage the changing environment and lead and motivate their often slimmed-down teams.

"Skills training can never be cut, as it's the lifeblood of the industry, and personal development for junior and senior staff alike keeps them committed, motivated and challenged. In a buoyant market, change would be seen as a driver for training needs and this environment is throwing up change at every turn."

Your staff are your greatest asset, so teaching them new skills is money well spent

VICKY WILLIAMS
HR director - resourcing and development, Compass Group

"Training our employees remains a key requirement during an economic downturn; now more than ever, people need to have the capabilities to deliver high-quality client and customer service. In such a climate as this, training must be focused, ensuring that employees master the skills which are integral to their current roles.

"Companies that are not investing in training now may pay a price as we move into better times, experiencing potential problems with the retention of valuable employees."

LAURENCE BEERE
Proprietor, the Queensberry Hotel & Olive Tree Restaurant, Bath

"Short-term, knee-jerk reactions are a dangerous response to surviving the downturn. Ultimately, consumers have more choice; we are definitely in a buyer's market. However, as an industry, if we respond by merely reducing rates and services, we will undermine all that we have worked to build up by way of the quality and image of our industry.

"So rather than cut back, the opportunity is to invest in the people we have as well as pick up new talent from people who have been made redundant from other sectors of industry and bring them into hospitality."

ANDREW STEMBRIDGE
Managing director, Chewton Glen

"Our training budget is the only budget that I don't mind overspending and the same applies even in the current climate. Having said this, we have been more creative about keeping our training going strong without incurring cost and, as a result, are undertaking more in house than before.

"We have always been good at making the most of all of the grants available for training and we are looking harder than ever this year and we will, of course, make sure we have several strong applications in place for opportunities like the Master Innholder scholarships for Cornell, Cranfield and Lausanne."

DAVID BROADHEAD
Secretary, the Travellers Club, London

"Your greatest asset is your staff: this is the time to invest in them. But, that does not mean that one cannot cut a training budget - of course one can. Just be creative - training is still important.

"How many years' experience have you got? What knowledge can you impart? How many colleagues do you know through friendship, networking societies and clubs or whatever where you have accumulated vast years of experience? Do the decent thing - pass it on. One does not have to pay huge sums of money to training organisations (and I apologise to them in advance), but think outside the box."

For more see our viewpoint by People 1st chief executive Brian Wisdom, Do not fire the apprentice now

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