The hospitality recruitment market faces a particularly difficult first quarter of 2009, with no hope of recovery until spring next year, experts have predicted.
The stark warning comes after a report by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development suggested that this year could be the worst for jobs in two decades, with as many as 600,000 jobs set to be cut.
Gary King, director of recruitment firm Collins King & Associates, admitted that 2009 would be "a very challenging year" for the hospitality industry. "The first quarter of the year will be particularly hard, especially for the restaurant and hotel sectors as both businesses and consumers curb spending," he said.
The prediction was backed up by a survey of more than 150 hospitality executives, by recruiter Admiral Group, which revealed that more than two-thirds were planning to delay permanent recruitment decisions.
Paula Rogers, managing director of Admiral, said: "There is less churn in the permanent recruitment sector at the moment with candidates and clients thinking seriously before they change jobs or recruit."
Jeff Ross, managing director of Hospitality Graduate Recruitment, revealed that Hilton had put its fast track graduate development programme, Hilton Elevator, on hold. "This is definitely a short-term indicator of tough times," he said, although he added that senior management roles would be hit harder than graduate positions.
However, King insisted that the hospitality market would fare better that it did during the last recession as it was far larger and more diverse than it was during the 1990s.
"I do expect there to be a number of opportunities created, especially in the casual dining, retail and contract catering sectors," he said. "Overall, I think we will start to see light at the end of the tunnel in the autumn, starting with a slow recovery that will pick up pace in early 2010."
By Gemma Sharkey
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