Latest figures show mixed outlook for hospitality industry

Hotel management staff who have been recruiting new workers have helped drive the hospitality industry in the last quarter, according to the latest figures.

The Hospitality Employer Index report from People 1st and revealed that the number of adverts for hotel jobs rose by five per cent in the first three months of 2012 to 40,007, while applications for such vacancies increased by ten per cent to 933,200.

This was a nine per cent rise on the first quarter of last year, a 28 per cent increase on Q1 2010 and a jump of 58 per cent on the initial three-month period of 2009.

But while the statistics appear to paint a positive picture of the hospitality industry, it seems that employment levels throughout the sector have stayed the same as in the last quarter of 2011 despite the higher numbers of people looking for jobs.

On the other hand, 2012 is likely to be a "year of consolidation rather than growth", according to AA Hotel Services' Simon Numphud.

"Expectations are that (the Olympics) will result in stable year on year growth as opposed to substantial growth."

However, hotel operators are finding it hard to plan ahead because of increased confidence among British consumers, which is causing them to book shorter breaks at the last minute.

"The British consumer has become more spontaneous due to more time constraining lifestyles," commented Mr Numphud.

Brian Wisdom, chief executive of People 1st, pointed out that while many hotels seem to be taking on extra staff, "the overall trend of inactivity is concerning", particularly as the London 2012 Olympics is starting in a couple of months.

He added that a lot of employers in hospitality are putting their recruitment plans on ice for a while until the economic situation becomes clearer.

"However, this doesn't mean that the development of our existing workforce cannot continue at a pace and preparations made for growth in the future. Our goal should always be to improve the productivity of our workforce and, in the absence of new recruitment, the development of multi-skilled staff can be a powerful tool," Mr Wisdom said.

Berkeley Scott is a specialist recruitment agency in the hospitality industry