From education to employment

Reasons for the hospitality sector to be optimistic in 2023

The hospitality sector is growing. In the Southwest alone there are 50,000 new hotel beds set to launch in 2023/24. Financial investment in the sector is there as well as public demand. 

Despite this, the supply and demand challenges in the industry aren’t going to go away anytime soon. Recruitment continues to be the biggest factor as the sector attempts to recoup after issues including Brexit laws which have limited the flow of workers to the UK. 

The role of apprenticeships 

Huge gains are being made by recruitment strategies that focus on apprenticeships. 

Not only do they serve as a way to rectify retention figures, with 73% of employees in hospitality still working for the same employer two years after achieving their apprenticeship. They also have a positive impact on people of all ages that undertake them. 

Learning and development leads at some of Lifetime’s largest hospitality partners met at the Loving Hospitality Summit 2022 in December where Lifetime’s insight consultant, Dan Kunka demonstrated that apprenticeships have a positive impact on learners: 

  • 84% of apprentices believe that they are important in achieving career goals (this rises to 96% of those completing a level 5)
  • 81% reported an increase in confidence after completing an apprenticeship (which rises to 93% for level 5 apprentices)
  • 79% believe their apprenticeship makes them more productive (which rises to 89% in level 5 apprenticeships).

Continuing Professional Development is essential for the industry 

Sam Coulstock, head of professional development at the Institute of Hospitality spoke at the Summit, noting that it’s not a skills challenge that the industry is facing, but a labour challenge. Nevertheless, there are lots of reasons to be optimistic. Valuable training partners provide dynamic and progressive education provision and there is also a lot of positive action being taken by industry bodies and employers working together. It is this coherent and collaborative support from within the industry that Sam believes will retain, grow and professionalise the sector and position hospitality as a career of choice. 

Increasing operations teams’ involvement in Continuing Professional Development (CPD) was raised as a key point for hospitality employers. This was reflected in research from the Institute of Hospitality which show that: 

  • 95% of employers said that leadership training of supervisors and management roles was essential / very important for future needs 
  • 98% of employers said that CPD should be available for all staff 
  • 85% of employers said that CPD was essential for the recruitment and retention of staff 

Coulstock also reported that hospitality employers had stated some of the key challenges to tackle in 2023 were:  

  • The increasing time it takes to recruit, stated by 85% of employers 
  • The need to increase chef pay to attract and retain employees, reported by 77% of employers 
  • Overall supply and demand challenges, expressed by 76% of employers. 

Supporting the mental health of employees 

Chef Joe Hurd, who is also an ambassador for the Chef Academy at Lifetime, spoke at the Summit about the current climate for chefs. He reflects that the industry has changed enormously in the time he has worked within it. He notes that a big part of this is providing more adequate support for employees.  

When Joe started his career, the sector was renowned for its long hours and stressful working conditions. Fast forward to today and the industry has had a reset. Joe acknowledges that whilst it is largely down to reacting to retention challenges, the sector is now supporting more flexible ways of working. Employers are gaining a deeper understanding of employees and how they want to work and designing bespoke employment packages around them. 

Joe states that mentorship, something that has aided him throughout his career, is also vital in the sector. Hospitality employers that operate a network of support where everyone is linked in a ‘big family network’, and where employees know who they can turn to for support has a huge influence on an individual’s mental health. 

Not only is this supportive environment better for retention and the mental health of employees, it also positively impacts the bottom line. As outlined by Institute of Hospitality research above, the sector has previously had to meet increasingly high pay demands of chefs which is unsustainable in the long-term. 

About Loving Hospitality 

Lifetime developed Loving Hospitality as a hospitality partner network in 2018. Collaboration through the network allows Lifetime and its hospitality partners to tackle the key challenges in the industry and embrace new opportunities. 

Loving Hospitality hosted its annual Summit on 1st December 2022 where topics such as Continuing Professional Development, employee mental health and staff retention was discussed in depth. 

Learning and development leads from organisations including Hilton UK&I, Whitbread, Marston’s, Wagamamas, Bourne Leisure, Cairn Group, McDonalds, Mitchells and Butlers, SSP, Pret A Manger, TGI Friday’s, Travelodge and Wetherspoons attended. Guests from The Institute of Hospitality and chef Joe Hurd also spoke at the event to offer their unique perspectives on the industry. 

By Dan Sullivan, head of partnerships, hospitality at Lifetime

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