New UKH strategy to create dynamic workforce & resolve staffing crisis

UKHospitality has launched a nationwide hospitality workforce strategy to nurture cooperation between industry stakeholders and boost recruitment and training for a new generation of skilled hospitality staff, plugging the sector’s 170,000 jobs gap.

Published today (Tuesday 31 May) at an industry event at Westminster Kingsway College, the workforce strategy – Fixing the crisis: a framework for collaborative action across the sector – examines all aspects of the industry’s labour needs, including recruitment, skills and training, people’s working lives, hospitality’s image as a sector in which to work and the infrastructure to support our employees.

It comes as hospitality’s post-pandemic recovery contends with increased raw goods costs, huge energy bill rises, business rates, VAT back to 20%, plus a dip in consumer confidence due to the cost-of-living crisis. All of this is exacerbated by a crisis in employment across the economy, and in hospitality in particular. ONS data shows that vacancies now exceed unemployment for the first time.

UKHospitality Chief Executive Kate Nicholls (pictured) says in the document’s foreword: “This strategy sets out a vision to ensure [hospitality is] fully-resourced with people with the right skills, a clear talent pipeline with established routes of progression and high levels of employee wellbeing. It is based on a partnership approach with industry bodies and governments.

'At the core of the UK-wide strategy is “an ambition to upskill our workforce and create high-quality, high-skilled roles, promoting social mobility. Levelling up the hospitality workforce will help to level up the nation.”

Designed to work alongside and support the Hospitality & Tourism Skills Board where appropriate, the strategy focuses on five key areas the sector must address:

recruitment – hospitality must be able to access a wide range of people to fill its vacancies
skills and training – hospitality is a professional sector that must enshrine high standards and facilitate social mobility
working lives – hospitality must make people’s working lives enjoyable and fulfilling
image of the sector – to reset perceptions of the hospitality sector as a great place to work and develop your career
infrastructure – to ensure that there are no structural barriers to working in the sector – such as poor transport and a lack of housing

Within these areas the strategy examines critical issues such as professional standards, pay, the working environment, equality and diversity, future demand and digital connectivity.

Kate added in her foreword: “It is no exaggeration to say that people make hospitality. Along with the setting, they provide the unique experiences that people crave. Without the great people who create these environments there would be no hospitality sector.

“It is therefore critical that sector businesses are able to cultivate a skilled and dynamic workforce. Hospitality offers a wide range of roles with different skill sets. It provides entry-level to managerial to corporate jobs. People will find great training opportunities and meritocratic career progression.

“A booming hospitality workforce will create a fantastic hospitality experience for all, and a better society. It’s crucial we work collaboratively to deliver on this workforce strategy. It will create economic growth and help to regenerate communities in all parts of the country.

'Higher employment rates and business levels will generate even further taxation from hospitality to fund and bolster local and national public services. It will also contribute to the UK being a leading tourist destination.”

UKHospitality has the backing of the Government – through its ambition to create jobs and align with the hospitality and tourism recovery strategies – and is ‘encouraged by the political support that this mission has received from all parties’.

By working with government, the hospitality sector, already best placed to lead the UK’s post-pandemic recovery, will deliver on levelling up every town, regenerating high streets, and reigniting local economies, with a highly skilled workforce able to unlock the industry’s huge potential.

Immediate next steps include delivering on the objectives of the strategy, engaging with industry and local partners, developing action plans for each measure, and a big, bold recruitment campaign. UKHospitality will also produce an annual report on the state of the hospitality workforce.