Author: Noel Mahony, Co-CEO of BaxterStorey
The skills gap in our industry is one of the largest shortfalls of all UK sectors, as reported by UK Hospitality. We know people have left our sector, relocating back to their home countries, or moving into other sectors altogether. This is a huge hit to our industry and we must come together to address the issue.
Across BaxterStorey, I have spoken to individuals who have chosen to retrain and take a different career path altogether; from bricklaying and security work, to setting up their own businesses in different sectors. This trend is concerning, and shows people are not viewing our industry as reliable at the moment. The impact of COVID-19 has seen us lose some brilliant talent.
The road ahead
There was a skills gap prior to COVID-19 and businesses, including BaxterStorey, are struggling to recruit for many skilled roles. To fill these positions, it’s essential that we work together as an industry to rebuild our diverse workforce and attract more people into hospitality.
We are a resilient industry, and from September we are confident that we can begin to bounce back once workers take to the office again and students make their return to university. However, we have a big challenge in making our sector more attractive to young people and promoting hospitality as a profession, rather than as the unstable, low-skill, low-pay job that some perceive it as.
Over the years, hospitality has suffered with perceptions of poor pay and poor working hours and often little is known about the opportunities such a career can provide. To aid the industry’s recovery, we must look at how we promote a more diverse workforce. For example, we need more brilliant chefs, and to attract the best and most diverse talent, we need to ensure we provide shift patterns that work around people’s lifestyles.
Bridging the gap
It’s not enough to tell people what a brilliant career hospitality can provide, we must act and make positive changes to secure the future of our industry. That’s why we’re supporting the Springboard to 2022 campaign, which aims to have 10,000 young people trained and ready for work, in line with the industry’s recovery, by 2022.
To facilitate the development of all our staff and address the skills gap, we are actively sourcing programmes and apprenticeships, lasting between 4-12 months, so all team members can continue training while working with BaxterStorey. We are also dedicated to ensuring the wellbeing of our staff, particularly during these challenging times, and we are running a programme to qualify 100 mental health first aiders across the business by August.
Hospitality, leisure and tourism is an industry that collectively employs 3.2 million people in the UK and was 8% of GDP pre-COVID-19, therefore it’s essential we also engage with pupils in schools, diversifying where we recruit from and giving young people the option for careers in hospitality.
Our industry needs to come together and look at offering more flexible working hours, increased pay levels, and offer training programmes; ensuring people coming into the industry have the opportunity to benefit from a long and happy career in which they grow, develop and feel valued.