Tackling the Skills Shortage in the Hospitality Industry

Hospitality is a booming industry, but with the opening of new restaurants and hotels, increased choice of places to work and businesses opening, closing and rebranding all the time, comes the need for skilled, semi-skilled and unskilled workers to fill numerous positions that have become available. 

According to reports, unemployment is at a record low of 4.3% but the freedom of movement across Europe hanging in the balance due to Brexit, could mean a severe skills shortage for the hospitality industry this year and beyond.

Threatened by a chronic shortage of hospitality workers, many positions go unfulfilled due to the skills shortage and lack of labour supply in the market. 1 in 5 hospitality businesses in the UK find recruitment harder each year and have concerns about hiring in the future. 

There have been occasions where restaurants and small hotels are having to cut business hours to retain existing staff or closing completely due to the lack of integral staff members including chefs and serving staff.

The most likely reason why recruitment is so difficult and the reason behind the skills shortage has been blamed on fewer young people entering the workforce due to the low-pay and anti-social hours that hospitality employees often are expected to work. 

But as well as this, the change in the UK’s political climate has also affected the skills shortage, with the effect of Brexit causing uncertainty, with many European workers choosing to leave the UK and no longer applying for hospitality jobs in the UK as a result. 

There are a lot of well-trained, capable and highly motivated candidates out there, but the issue for many is that there simply aren’t enough of them. And even if you can recruit, some businesses in the industry are struggling to retain them.

There is no denying there is a global skills shortage in hospitality. According to the Foodservice Consultants Society International, the skills shortage is one of the biggest challenges facing the hospitality industry at present.

The Misconceptions about the Hospitality Industry

There are many misconceptions about the hospitality industry and this could also lead to a lack of recruits. Many believe that the industry offers low-skilled and low-paid jobs without many perks. There is also a belief that jobs within the hospitality industry don’t offer a progression of skills that can be applied to the wider market in future.

Due to this, many young people don’t consider hospitality as a career, as the idea of it doesn’t sound appealing. 

Although entering the industry can indeed mean long shift work, weekend, evening and late-night work as well as a fast-paced and pressured environment it’s easy to forget the positives that the industry provides. 

Due to the skills shortage in the industry, there has been a rise in people reporting the lack of team morale. The industry sees many people on their feet for long periods, with service time often being high pressured and fast.

Unlike an office job, those in the industry that are struggling will find it difficult to find time to take a break and are unable to go under the radar undetected on a bad day. When you are client-facing, you’re unable to have an ‘off day.’ The business is represented by the people that are front of house and relies on brilliant service at all times.

What is the Solution?

There are several solutions to tackling the skills shortage in the hospitality industry. These include offering comprehensive training and retraining current staff to help move them up the career ladder. Although time-consuming and sometimes costly, retaining staff is another issue the industry faces and this would help create a team of long-term and fulfilled staff members who can take away valuable learnings and skills from a training programme.

Supervisors and managers should also undertake training programmes to help understand where they can assist in retaining staff members, offering better support and being aware of mental health and physical health of the people working in their teams. On a training course, they can also gain cultural awareness and help create an environment that is less stressful, friendly and rewarding. 

The first steps to take at an industry level is to address team cultural issues. Businesses can work to change the reputation of hospitality among younger people, and provide flexible working hours for those that are still in full-time education or staff members who need to work around other commitments such as family or other.

Other solutions are to provide better career opportunities, better treatment from senior members of staff, better pay, incentives or work perks. Prioritising these areas would help to attract new skilled staff and retain existing employees.

Hiring a recruitment company to help you find new recruits is the way forward in 2020. Not only can they reach the wider population in a search for hospitality job seekers, but they can also filter out those that won’t be a good fit and be able to spot those that will. The role of a recruitment company is to gain awareness of the job roles you have available and to liaise with potential candidates that fit the bill. 

This reduces the time spent by business owners attempting to drum up new recruits, and also means that there is less chance of hiring someone who will simply give up or drop out after a couple of shifts. Using a recruitment company means that the candidate is fully aware of the role and it’s responsibilities, skills required and what is expected of them.

Due to the amount of candidates we have access to and our knowledge of the industry, we are also able to pinpoint information that a business owner may not have access to such as salary expectations across the industry, what perks people are often asking for and whether the job opportunities they are offering are well received or not by potential candidates, helping improve the overall recruitment experience from both sides.