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Viewpoint: In tough times, training is the key to success

11 May 2018 by
Viewpoint: In tough times, training is the key to success

It can be tempting to cut back on staff costs when your business is struggling, but team retention is vital to survive, says Gordon McIntyre

W e are all expecting 2018 to be a tough year for the hospitality and tourism sector, and so we must work more collaboratively than ever before. The industry has never been in such a time of tough competition for staff, as well as there being a greater need to make a return on investment.

The external factors affecting businesses are aligned in making things as difficult as possible, but it is so important that training is not forgotten; I am aware that on previous occasions, some operators consider it an area that can be withdrawn in challenging times. In my opinion, this is when training has never been more vital.

This is the time that businesses can really reward and celebrate the retention of staff, invest in them and make them feel valued. When recruitment is difficult, retention is hugely important. Employers should be making use of any training grants that are available to them; contact your local college or skills body for more information (schemes are different in Scotland to that of England and Wales).

Many businesses in the west of Scotland are forming collaborations with local colleges, schools and training providers. The Adopt a School scheme is something that the Glasgow Hotel Association is working in partnership with Glasgow City Council's education department and the City of Glasgow College is the broker in this initiative. This is a scheme that encourages pupils and staff from the school to spend valuable time at the hotel, including planned work experience, and also encourages hotel staff to visit schools and advise about employment opportunities at their careers fairs.

Hospitality businesses are collaborating with and visiting local colleges to recruit part-time staff; it can be as simple as taking a table in the foyer of the college and handing out recruitment information, with some even conducting interviews on-site and making offers the same day. Others prefer to advertise posts on the college intranet.

Some employers are considering graduate recruitment programmes where they will guarantee full-time employment to graduates on a management programme - structured training, with an attractive salary.

A partnership between City of Glasgow College and Caledonian MacBrayne (CAL MAC, a ferry operator for the Clyde and Western Isles) offers a modern apprenticeship in hospitality for maritime staff and is the first of its kind. Staff from CAL MAC attend college as well as being assessed by staff on-board the vessels, which are a vital link between the western isles and the Scottish mainland. The recruits all come from the local area, which supports retention and means that they are able to provide excellent local knowledge to the passengers.

Collaboration is where you gain a 'win-win'; utilising the best skills from all parties through the sharing of a wide spectrum of experiences.

Gordon McIntyre is curriculum head for hospitality at City of Glasgow College

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