Demand for talented hospitality staff ahead of the Olympics is on the up but businesses are still being warned not to leave recruitment too late.
Operators are urged to prepare now in order to reap the benefits during and after the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, according to the fourth quarterly Hospitality Employment Index from Caterer.com and People 1st.
Brian Wisdom, chief executive of People 1st, said: "The industry will have to operate at full capacity and, consequently, businesses need to be fully prepared with the right number of skilled staff in place to provide a world-class service."
The report found that the number of new job ads during the fourth quarter of 2011 stood at 40,000, up 9% on the year before and up 17% on 2009, describing it as an encouraging sign that, even in difficult economic times, sector businesses were faring relatively well.
But while 35% of respondents expect their workforce numbers to increase over the games, preparation seems to be behind schedule as just 18% have taken on, or made plans to take on, any more staff.
The report pointed to the Winter Olympics study, which found that many businesses kicked off their recruitment drives too late to make the most of the event, and called for UK operators to take on new employees as early as possible to increase performance and success.
"While it has been easier to recruit staff, it's still hard to recruit skilled staff. Although the Olympics provide a great opportunity for businesses, they will only bring these skills shortages more sharply into focus. With four months to go, businesses need to start acting immediately," Wisdom added.
Some of the largest growth in hospitality in the fourth quarter has been among managerial positions. The highest increase was in the number of job ads for pub management (42% up on the fourth quarter of 2010), bar management (up 23%) and events managers (up 22%).
As other industries continue to shed staff, hospitality employers could consider recruiting talent from other sectors to alleviate their skills shortages.
Despite 715,000 job applications made in the fourth quarter of 2011 (up 24% on 2010 and up 39% on 2009), many kitchen-based roles (eg, pastry chef, chef de partie and sous chef) are still attracting relatively few applications, indicating they are still difficult to recruit for.
The 2012 Olympic Games are expected to have a longer-lasting impact which will go beyond this summer. VisitBritain predicts that 50-70% of the net economic benefit of the London Olympics will come through hospitality and tourism over seven to 10 years.
By Janie Manzoori-Stamford
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