Unified body needed to address hospitality skills shortage

23 March 2010 by
Unified body needed to address hospitality skills shortage

Picture the scene. You're in the hot seat on Who Wants to be a Millionaire and Chris Tarrant has just handed you the cheque for £500,000 your last correct answer has won you - but he doesn't want to give you that!

After a few moments of agonising indecision, you throw caution to the wind and opt for the million-pound clincher. The music strikes up, the spotlights zoom drunkenly, and then the question comes.

"What organisation is responsible for addressing the UK hospitality skills shortage? Is it
a/ the Institute of Hospitality;
b/ People 1st;
c/ Springboard UK or
d/ the Hospitality Skills Academy?"

Queue cold sweats, sinking feeling and sheepish acceptance of a £50,000 cheque.

If you find hospitality's sheer number of institutes, academies, guilds and associations bewildering, you're not alone. In this week's Caterer, Bob Cotton admits that even he finds the training and qualifications landscape befuddling - and he, for the next few months at least, remains the chief executive of the British Hospitality Association.

No one doubts that any of these bodies does any less than the very best it can to drive up skills and attract fresh talent for the hospitality industry. The trouble is that their remits represent a Venn diagram of overlapping interests and responsibilities.

Cotton calls for a single national forum to "bring all the interested parties together and collectively agree the way ahead".

He is right, of course, but don't expect the creation of a single, unifying body taking strategic decisions on the industry to be quick or easy. There are too many vested interests and diverging agendas for that.

Mark Lewis, Editor, Caterer and Hotelkeeper

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