Hospitality training programmes in London will receive a £3.5m boost over three years, following a new initiative by the London Development Agency (LDA).
The LDA wants employers to help it develop programmes to create "world class" service staff in the capital's hospitality, tourism, travel and leisure sectors.
"London is a great city, but customer service always lets us down," said Jane Riches, skills and employment manager at the LDA. "Everyone is talking about the skills shortage but very little is being done about it. We will be inviting the industry to come up with innovative training projects that will make a difference and don't just reinvent the wheel."
Employers or consortia of employers - which the LDA will match with training providers - will be invited to submit tenders for a range of training, recruitment and staff-retention programmes to start next January. Firms will contribute either financially or by providing premises or facilities.
The projects will target young people, women returning to work after having children, ethnic communities, immigrants, disabled people, the over-50s and the unemployed. They will provide jobs for 950 unemployed people and extra training for 1,500 current workers.
Pilot projects with Conran restaurants, Hyatt Regency London - Churchill, and contract caterer Parallel helped staff improve their English along with skills like Champagne-pouring, matching drinks with cigars and cocktail-making.
The LDA's prospectus and action plan, to be launched on 9 September, can be downloaded from www.lda.gov.uk.
The closing date for tenders is 29 October.