Increasing customer expectations and use of social media will make customer service and management and leaderships all the more important in the hospitality and tourism sector over the coming years.
That is one of the key findings of sector skills council People 1st's 2013 State of the Nation research report.
The report surveyed 2,000 employers from across the hospitality and tourism sector to analyse current labour market trends as well as skills and education and training needs.
Most employers are optimistic about the future, according to the report. And the vast majority of them (88%) noted that customer service skills would grow in importance in the next three to five years.
Meanwhile, employers believe management and leadership skills (69%), the need to address sustainability issues (58%), and effective use of social media (48%) will have significant influence on the sector in the future.Brian Wisdom, chief executive of People 1st, said: "Our employers are already saying that many of their staff lack the necessary customer service and management and leadership skills, so as the need for these particular skills grows, the situation could definitely get a lot worse." "A lot of effort has gone into attracting people into the industry, but this shows that what we really need to do is place much more emphasis on making sure that the staff we already have in the industry are retained and given the training they need. "As the economy picks up and we face recruitment competition from other industries, ensuring our staff have the right skills is going to be hugely important." The report also showed that staff turnover rates have fallen from 31% in 2009 to 20% in 2012. Only 41% of companies surveyed offered training in the last 12 months. "Of those that do offer training, most money is directed toward elementary occupations, which is carried out at the most basic level, and much of this is because of the high turnover rates we're experiencing. It has become a vicious cycle that we need to stop," Wisdon said. Other highlights from the report included: •One in 14 people working in the UK are employed in the hospitality and tourism sector •Employment growth in the hospitality and tourism sector (0.7%) is higher than the average for the economy as a whole (0.5%) •A further 660,200 people will need to be recruited to 2020 •The sector contributed £40.6b to the UK economy in 2011 •Almost half (46%) of hospitality and tourism businesses employ less than five people •57% of the workforce is female, but only 32% of sector employers have female senior managers •18% of employers with hard-to-fill vacancies believe there are insufficient numbers of people interested in doing the types of work available •The majority of skills shortage vacancies are for elementary staff (43%) and skilled trade occupations (41%). •21% of employers report skills gaps, compared to only 13% in the overall economy. •The sector spends an average of £3,625 per person on training, which is higher than the average of £3,275 across all industries. "This latest research shows that we are in a fantastic position to have a huge impact on the UK economy in the forthcoming years, provided we are able to adapt to the needs of our customers," said Wisdom. Â