Invest in the talent we have

08 December 2008
Invest in the talent we have

Early in my career I experienced the last major recession and I recall that one area of cost saving made by the industry was to cut back on middle and assistant managers. As financial pressure grows, it will again be necessary for us to make difficult decisions to protect business success.

But before we go down the same route, it is worth remembering that as economic recovery began in the 1990s and growth in our industry accelerated we began to bemoan the lack of trained middle management available to recruit into senior roles. Those quick decisions to remove layers of middle management created a vacuum of talent that held back our ability to grow.

While the People 1st-led 14-19 hospitality diploma, which launches next September, is an important step in the long-term solution to our recruitment needs, it is not a panacea and ignores much of the potential talent within our industry.

We should concentrate much more energy on developing existing young managers who have already made a commitment to our industry rather than focus on bringing in school leavers, where, experience tells us, retention rates remain fairly low.

All too often we pay too little attention to an individual's continuing professional development (CPD) and do not support our existing management, who may become the future leaders of our industry. The Institute of Hospitality offers CPD guidance and yet, all too often, it is seen as having little relevance in the ongoing development of our industry.

In order to develop people properly through CPD, we need to change our attitude. Rather than seeing it as a cost that can be cut out of a budget when times are hard, we should see an individual's CPD as an essential part of the development of the business.

We must ensure that there is sufficient resource - both in monetary terms and, more importantly, in releasing a person from the workplace to pursue their learning - as prerequisites of a modern and progressive industry capable of facing the challenges ahead.

The professional development of young people who have already made a commitment to the industry is a more productive use of resources than recruiting and retaining new staff from outside

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