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Seeking the new generation of hospitality’s hidden gems

UKHospitality Skills Director Sandra Kelly

Sandra Kelly

Skills Director

Following the launch of a new employment programme with the Department for Work and Pensions, our Skills Director Sandra Kelly wrote for Propel’s Friday Opinion to outline the reasons behind this new piece of work.

Solution focused

The workforce crisis is a worry at the top of every operator’s list. A challenge to be tackled that will remain there if we do not act together to solve it through a strategic, long-term, and industry-wide plan.

In the short term, we’ve proven that we can make progress towards lowering sector vacancies; through the creativity and endeavours of hospitality businesses and industry initiatives we’ve seen vacancies in the sector fall by 48,000 (29%) over the last year from their peak, post-pandemic.

But there is a lot more to be done if we’re going to fill the 120,000 vacancies currently left in the sector, short term, and build a viable long-term plan for creating a generation of hospitality talent and future leaders.

That’s why we’re proud to have announced the launch of a new design of the Hospitality Sector-based Work Academy Programme (SWAP) this week, a pilot scheme that sees UKHospitality collaborating with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and Springboard.

The programme will provide tailored training for jobseekers from industry experts (including Greene King, Marriot Hotels and ACC Liverpool), allowing candidates to move into a career in hospitality, while boosting workforce participation in the sector and helping to grow the economy.

Meetings with Guy Opperman MP, the Employment Minister, in which we discussed the crucial importance of addressing labour shortages, led to the collaborative creation of this newly designed scheme and we’re excited that the pilot in Liverpool is now live. There are plans in place to also roll it out to other major cities, including London, Birmingham and Manchester, over the coming months.

The idea is to provide a unique programme of learning for benefit claimants in order to get them into stable employment. They will be able to complete qualifications and accredited training in areas such as health and safety, food safety, licensing, and conflict resolution to add to their Hospitality Skills Passport – a digital pass which can be added to CVs to show employers jobseekers have the skillset required by the sector.

A huge benefit for those taking the course, and the employers involved, is that the programme will culminate with a guaranteed job interview for all participants, helping jobseekers with a valuable progression opportunity to apply their new skills and a pathway to apprenticeships.

It's not just about recruitment

This new pilot scheme is a key component of UKHospitality’s wider Hospitality Workforce Strategy and sits under the ‘recruitment’ strand. But it’s bigger than just recruitment – this is about recognising that we have woken up to the fact that we, as a sector, haven’t necessarily been strategic about building our talent pipeline, but that is now the ambition.

Through this scheme we not only want to fill vacancies, but we want to harness and grow talent, give people the tools to access jobs in our industry and enable them to then grow and thrive within it.

Hospitality is a fantastic sector that offers a diverse variety of career opportunities, which is why it’s so well suited to helping people back into work. We are uniquely positioned as a sector, in that we can bring people in who haven’t worked before, have no qualifications, or have no experience.

That’s challenging but we have a social conscience that is big enough to tackle the challenges. We can grow the emotional strength of our leadership to look after the whole person, regardless of their job history.

Through this four-week programme, not only will candidates learn the everyday basics such as customer excellence and food safety, but they will also focus on the elements of the level 2 Hospitality Team Member Apprenticeship standard – building personal strength with attention on resilience, agile thinking, personal impact and compassion, teamwork, communication, collaboration and confidence. Skills that are invaluable to building a well-rounded workforce that we hope will go on to lead the sector.

Working as one

Through the creation of a Hospitality Skills Passport, we also hope to deliver a universal entry standard that benefits both the job seeker and the employer. It will give potential candidates a clear path of training to follow in order to secure a job in hospitality and a clear accreditation they can share with a prospective employer. And for the employer the knowledge that the person they are taking on has the necessary building blocks to succeed in their business.

What next?

The launch of this newly designed pre-employment programmes is a big step forward and is just one part of our wider Hospitality Workforce Strategy. This is just the beginning, as we embark on the pilot. We always welcome feedback and collaboration from businesses and the wider industry as we look to move forward together, united by this pilot of the universal entry standard for hospitality.

It is critical that the industry continues to concentrate on long-term objectives as well as dealing with present-day challenges. We at UKHospitality will be focusing on the launch and successful roll out of these pre-employment programmes over the next year, as part of a much wider programme of work across skills and training, recruitment, infrastructure, and building the reputation of hospitality.

We know that there is much more that needs to be done to build a sustainable talent pipeline for our hospitality sector, and we hope that operators agree that the launch of this new pilot scheme is a step in the right direction. One step of many on the journey to make hospitality the employer of choice for a fun, exciting and rewarding job and career.

Read more about the initiative launched with the Department for Work and Pensions

New employment programme launched with Governmentarrow icon