It has often been said that the industry is world-class but most accept that it still faces a range of challenges which it needs to overcome including recruitment, higher education, development of talent, diversity and image.
So what does need to happen?
This question has of course been asked many times over but, with all the debates which have taken place during and post-pandemic it does all seem to become clearer. Last week, UK Hospitality published a report on Workforce strategy which pinpointed a number of key areas of focus. The report noted 5 key areas of focus:
• Skills & training
• Working lives
• Image of the sector
Most would accept that these are the key areas of focus and it does raise a number of questions. A world-class industry, which hospitality has proven itself to be, would expect to have:
• A strong, effective higher education support structure which works well in tandem with the industry. The report notes a great range of academic and vocational qualifications but it still needs a stronger overall structure. There are those who argue that the industry once had some of the leading hospitality schools in Europe. Not many would argue that is the case today, although there are clear examples but these are often isolated. There is a need for greater investment to be made into a system which is in need of change, industry interaction and evolution.
• It has been well documented that L&D budgets have fallen in relative terms over the last twenty years by anything from 30-50%. A world-class industry does need investment in its talent.
• Stronger diversity and inclusion. This has been on the agenda for many years now. There are many who champion this cause well and effectively but still there is far more which needs to be done.
• The industry has long been excellent at talking to itself but now is time to start to engage the external audiences more effectively. There are new campaigns being generated and all hope that this will be the start of a sea change as the industry does need to be and to feel comfortable talking about itself and championing its many attributes.
The challenge is on. The industry has survived the pandemic far better than almost anyone forecast. It has proven itself time and again. However, too often companies and the industry has worked in silos and not collaboratively. UKH has made great progress in bringing the major players together. UKH did lead through the pandemic. Now the challenge is for the industry to rebuild better and stronger as has so often been said.
As is so often the case, the rebuilding process needs to take place during a testing economic period. The hard truth is some of the above areas did lack real investment during the boom years. Many did feel, during the years of easy labour and recruitment, that there was no need to invest in structure and development as strongly as was needed. The core pillars of the industry built during the 70s, 80s and 90s did erode year by year and now there is a time to rebuild. Higher education has struggled in recent years to maintain its position. It is well known that fewer younger talents have broken through as was once the case so commonly seen. The world has changed and the industry needs to become more reflective of modern society at senior levels.
There is little point arguing about has not happened in the past; the focus now must be on what needs to happen now and for the future. The industry will prevail as it possesses so many exceptional talents within its ranks. The future is bright as there are so many great talents emerging one way or another who do possess new visions of the future. There are very good odds that the industry’s face will be very different in 2030 than it is today. It will have a new face and a new vision with many of the core pillars strong again.