Time to get Real about the Hospitality Recruitment Crisis
The continuing issue of finding and recruiting people to return to work within the hospitality sector is at a crisis point. The time for talking about this situation is long over. It is now time for action. But what action should be taken? Therein lies the nub of the problem.
Vested interest groups are continually calling upon the government to sort out staffing issues. However, many of the same people are impeding staff from advancing their careers, and attending college or other educational courses, as they don’t want to pay them for taking time away from work. What a paradox
The entire process of attracting and encouraging people into the sector must be revised and adapted in order to make hospitality careers more engaging and secure.
We must prioritise the education of our educators. Most career guidance teachers, it seems, do not rate or understand hospitality as a career. Instead, hospitality and tourism work is seen as a stop gap: something to do until you get a “real job”. The assumption is that our schools often focus on academic performance rather than providing insights into job satisfaction or career paths. Second and third level education appears to be more about the points, the degrees, the qualifications, rather than the well-being of the student or how best they can achieve their goals.
If this position continues, we are headed for difficult times.
There is an optics, perception and marketing, issue around the idea of training for a hospitality position. The term “apprenticeship” needs to be consigned to history, as it conjures up a sense of low skill and low pay: an outlet for students not considered academic by their teachers. These job positions should be more in keeping with today’s industry and embrace the term “career path”. “Organisation career path support”, perhaps?
Unless this crisis is quickly addressed, trades will disappear along with the key skill sets within hospitality. Not every person performs well in school, but there is evidence that – with proper support and encouragement – hospitality employees achieve remarkable success and life-long careers within the industry.
Not many other professions facilitate the ability to travel the world. A skill set in hospitality is a passport to the world, in my humble opinion.
The industry must also step up to the plate, offering realistic pay, conditions, recognition and support for employees wishing to avail of advancement within their chosen disciplines.
Businesses have no issue when spending large sums on refurbishments and the aesthetics of their properties, but some appear to have a problem in investing in their most crucial asset – people – by way of training and up-skilling and other elements of support for the employee.
Time and time again hospitality has proven to be a crucial component in the well-being of our economy. It has shown resilience when faced with adversity: from the tragic events of 9/11, to the ash cloud, SARS, the financial crisis of 2008 (when the IMF identified tourism as a key element to assist with the economic recovery). In so many challenges that faced the country, the tourist sector rallied to the challenge and aided recovery.
The voice of tourism and hospitality is somewhat lost at the cabinet table – and all too often consigned to the lesser portfolios. Tourism directly supports 250,000 jobs and assists countless other jobs supporting the sector.
Is this situation going to be allowed escalate? Or are the industry, government and other interested parties ready to engage and sort the staffing problem out once and for all.