Hospitality apprenticeships have bucked the national trend and increased by 15%, but UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls has warned that further action in education and migration policy is needed to keep the sector at full strength.
Speaking at the Hospitality Apprenticeship Showcase 2020 Nicholls said at a time when most industries had seen a fall in apprenticeship starts, hospitality had recorded a record 15,000 new starts.
But, with the industry facing a staffing crisis she warned that further measures were needed and called for a review of the Apprenticeship Levy, which is paid by large UK employers, to ensure it is appropriate for businesses of all sizes.
Additionally, she spoke of the need to tackle labour shortages with an expanded range of training courses and a migration policy that supports the industry's needs.
Nicholls said: “We still face acute labour shortages. Hard to fill vacancies in this sector are reported by a third of our members and vacancy rates are 50% above the national average.
"This is not something we can simply train ourselves out of. We are already heavily invested in training, we do need to work harder to offer broader vocational training, and we also need to have a migration policy which keeps the economy, and the vital role that we play in the economy, at full strength by allowing us to recruit the skills we need.”
Helen Whately, minister for arts, heritage and tourism, advised the industry to concentrate on training UK staff.
She said: “I appreciate the challenges in Brexit and worries about the workforce from the European Union. It's vital in that context that we have our home-grown workforce with the skills that we need to look after all the people who enjoy hospitality in our country.”
She continued: "There are exciting and diverse careers in the hospitality sector. We need the people in these jobs to be given opportunities to develop and be trained up to really pursue a whole career, not just one-off jobs, an actual career in this really, really important sector.”
The Hospitality Apprenticeship Showcase is an annual event that takes place in the House of Commons. It brings together government, employers and staff to come together to celebrate apprenticeship opportunities in the hospitality industry.