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Recruitment and HR Blog

Combating the skills shortage in the hospitality industry

6th September 2018

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By Cath Harrison, Managing Director of JVP Group

New research has revealed the ever increasing contribution the hospitality industry is making to the UK economy.

According to British Hospitality Association data, the sector is Britain’s fourth largest employer, accounting for 3.2million direct jobs and 2.8million indirect jobs.

The BHA goes on to forecast that a further 500,000 jobs could be created over the next five years.

Another report by the World Travel and Tourism Council confirmed that one in ten of the world’s jobs are now generated by the sector.

This is all positive news. The challenge for the industry will be to fill these roles with the right people given a continuing skills shortage affecting the hospitality and tourism sector.

While there are well trained, talented and highly motivated candidates out there, the burning issue for many employers is that there simply aren’t enough of them.

So, employers have the task of not only identifying and attracting the best talent for their roles, but then holding on to them in an extremely competitive environment in which high turnover of staff has become the norm.

In North Wales, where my recruitment advertising company JVP Group is based, the skills crisis is particularly acute. Steps are being taken to address this, most notably with the development of the North Wales Tourism Hospitality Academy, a project spearheaded by North Wales Tourism MD Jim Jones.

One of the key shortages – something the Academy will help to address – is around what is known as ‘soft skills’. Soft skills are really people skills - the ability to communicate, work well within a team and to demonstrate both social and emotional intelligence.

Businesses in the hospitality and tourism industry often talk about the importance of getting the customer experience right. They are right when they say this but it should be about a lot more than whether they have invested in the latest visitor attraction, spa facility or historical tour. It should also be about how their employees interact with customers, the knowledge and enthusiasm they demonstrate and their willingness to go the extra mile to maximise visitor experience.

Good employee engagement has a multitude of benefits. It ensures happy customers, it helps a business retain good staff and, crucially, it will attract the best talent to your organisation. Delivery of superb training and development opportunities is key to showing that the industry provides career opportunities not just stop gap jobs.

An attractive benefits package will certainly attract those experienced in the industry who want to reap the rewards of their career success. A great example I have seen of this being done amazingly well and on a large scale with up to 1000 employees during peak season, is with our client Chester Zoo. They offer a superb range of financial and non-financial benefits that truly offer something for every employee, from generous annual leave to discount schemes and everything in between.

The tourism and hospitality industry has, rightly or wrongly, been badged as a very transient industry, but the smarter employers do something about it. They map out a development path for their people in which those with the ambition, work ethic and talent can see a way to climb through the ranks.

Linked to this is succession planning and a strong employer strategy to take proactive steps to shape the leaders of tomorrow.

When we help our clients recruit, we do so by attaching their company name and culture insights to the job advertisements rather than our own. We believe this is hugely important in building an employer brand. For many would-be employees it will be the first introduction to a company, an opportunity to get a feel for the values and ethos of their prospective employer.

A great way to extend the talent pool beyond the local resource is by promoting the geographical location of the job opportunity, as this will attract people who would seriously relocate for a better lifestyle.

A prime example of this would be if your business is based somewhere like North Wales, which was voted number four in Lonely Planet’s top places in the world to visit in 2017. Showing people what they can do in their downtime will broaden the appeal to people from across the UK. At JVP we have recently launched for this reason, to show off why the region is such a great place to live and work.

For the employers who get it right, there is some outstanding talent looking for the right opportunities. It is also vital to understand that the work does not stop when you have hired them. If anything, it is then that the really hard work starts to keep hold of them.

Top Tips for Employers

  • Build your employer brand so it stands out in the crowd
  • Ensure your job advertisements reach the best/widest possible audience
  • Work hard to retain your talent
  • Pay well – but also offer a range of other benefits
  • Take time to develop employee ‘soft skills’
  • Talk up your industry and the potential for long-term careers

If you’re an employer in the hospitality industry, has the skills shortage impacted your business?

We’d love to hear your thoughts, so drop us an email at or give us a call on 01745 774 955.

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