Develop internal talent to tackle skills shortage

02 October 2008
Develop internal talent to tackle skills shortage

The One and All Foundation, launched yesterday, is focused on developing talent - talent that often already exists in our businesses, but is struggling to break through.

Our society is changing: in just three years, only 20% of the workforce will be white, male, able-bodied and under 45. But do businesses understand this?

It has been shown that disabled employees have greater employer loyalty, better health and safety records, and lower rates of absenteeism and sickness. Yet this group is often overlooked - is there real talent here that we are missing?

We are not just talking about people in wheelchairs. Take those who have learning difficulties: many people with some form of dyslexia are known for their advanced creative abilities - surely this can be an advantage in our incredibly creative industry?

Then take black, Asian and minority ethnic employees, who in London, for example, account for over 41% of hotel and restaurant staff, yet only 6% of middle management. Why?

Some of these people, just like their white counterparts, may never have the ability and skills to sit in a boardroom, but surely there are a number who do. Why not identify and develop them?

Perhaps this is why many ethnic minority employees choose to develop their careers by starting entrepreneurial companies rather than in the corporate realm. Consider Surinder Arora, Cyrus Todiwala, Iqbal Wahhab and Michael Caines.

Then there is the gender issue - why is the debate about women still going on after so many years? Surely we can find a way of helping to break down this barrier? People are quick to point to childbearing and caring responsibilities, but isn't it still strange that women make up only 6% of UK boards?

The One and All Foundation believes that there is a real opportunity for the hospitality industry to return to its roots - valuing each employee as an individual and making it a priority to seek out latent talent within the business, rather than waiting to promote the loudest or the most visible employee.

There is a possibility that the much-maligned "skills shortage" has never existed. We simply didn't see the talents that our teams already possess.

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