Skills Shortages Plague The UK's Hospitality Industry

UK hospitality industry set for growth

Hosting the Olympics does a lot for a country’s tourism industry, but it’s not like London needed that much of a boost.
For centuries, people have journeyed from far and wide to see this ancient heart of the empire that once spanned the globe, to witness iconic historical landmarks like Big Ben, Buckingham Palace and the notorious Tower of London, and to journey beyond the bounds of the capital to see what the rest of Great Britain has to offer.
Being a cultural and financial center of the world, it has historical significance and all the attractions of a big city, boasting 54 Michelin Starred restaurants, and 1,600 hotels in the central London area alone.
With 8000 new hotel rooms  having opened in the capital in 2012, and another 5000 expected in 2013, it’s no surprise the UK hospitality industry is set for 1.8% growth and a contribution of €40 billion to the nation’s economy in the coming year.
Being a diverse industry that requires a variety of skills, and at the same time allowing those with the skills to rise to the top without having to attain several degrees in the process, the growth will be especially beneficial to students looking for part-time work.
It also provides a point of entry for migrants, with more than 20% of the hospitality industry comprised of migrant workers, as opposed to 14% in other UK industries.

Feeling the impact of skills shortages

Between 475,000 and 660,000 new hospitality jobs will created in the UK by 2020, but along with all the predicted growth comes the issue of skill shortages. Sixteen per cent of hotels and 13% of restaurants report that they are experiencing difficulties in finding the skills necessary to meet demand.
Two thirds of the establishments experiencing skill shortages claim there this is had a significant negative impact on their performance and operating costs.
Managers and chefs are two occupations in especially high demand, with tourism establishments reporting difficulties in filling both these positions. This is a cause for concern considering that around 133,000 management positions are expected to become vacant in the next seven years.
The Olympics, while helping to promote London’s appeal as a tourist destination, also served to draw attention to these skill shortages. The 2011 edition of the State of the Nation report had 40% of employers with skill gaps feeling the impact in leadership and management areas. This is a massive increase from the 26% that reported the same in the 2007 edition.
A survey of 2000 employers found that a large portion believe that social media, customer service skills, leadership, and sustainability are all factors that will have significant impact on the hospitality industry in the next few years.
Specific skill sets are needed to meet the requirements in all those areas, so the UK hospitality industry can stay ahead of the game and reap the full benefits of its expected growth.

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Matthew Flax loves the fact that as a freelance writer he can take his job with him no matter where he is in the world. However, it’s nice to know that if he ever wants to get a real job, he can always consult a niche job board that helps hopeful immigrants with their job search in Australia, New Zealand and the UK.