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What about the workers?

We may have to go through some tough times – but employers and training specialists hope to encourage new faces to our industry.

The past 18 months have seen hospitality facing the most extraordinary challenges for both businesses and the people working within the sector. Lockdowns, furlough, redundancies, closures and shifting goalposts on Covid regulations have left many shell-shocked.

Now perhaps the biggest challenge alongside financial security will be recruitment in the coming year. With many workers from Europe and beyond choosing not to return while the hopefully diminishing pandemic continues, while others are simply unable to travel here, the focus is on filling roles and training.

Who will be the new brooms in our sector – and will we ‘clean up’?

The good news is that with colleges, employers and industry associations looking to the future and demanding government support for initiatives where necessary, there may be light at the end of the tunnel. For instance, South Devon College is promoting a range of hospitality and tourism qualifications and insists jobs in the sector shouldn’t be seen as just a stop gap but as a career with opportunities for progression.

The English Riviera attracts 4.5 million visitors a year, generating £435 million, and that figure will grow as more international companies invest in the region. Torbay alone has some 1,000 tourism businesses employing 12,000 people, and that’s set to increase.

Lynn Stephens, Head of Leisure and Hospitality Industries at South Devon College and chair of the English Riviera Destination Management Plan Group says: “We have so many opportunities coming to the Bay with the reopening of existing businesses, the new brands and investments into the visitor economy, aligned with huge growth projected for UK staycations.” Hotel group Accor is just one of several building new hotels in Torbay.

Kayleigh Ryan, talent acquisition director for Northern Europe with Accor, says there are up to 150 job opportunities at their hotels alone, including in facilities and maintenance as well as at supervisory levels. Ryan explains there are also opportunities for career progression: “Within Accor we are present in 110 countries. You may start in Torquay but you could go on to Australia, America or Canada – we also have a huge presence in Europe. Whatever appeals to you there is a brand, a hotel and a job opportunity.”

In Scotland Crerar Hotels aim to stay at the forefront of attracting and retaining the best talent by committing more than £1m to a project which includes the launch of their own training academy and enhanced employee benefits.

Crerar Hotels CEO Chris Wayne-Wills says the group planned meticulously for the impact of Brexit, so feel ahead of the game to accelerate out of the Covid recruitment crisis and become a first-choice Scottish employer regardless of sector, using a range of measures to counter what are often barriers to employment.

Event manager Kerry Gordon studied at South Devon College to enhance her career prospects

They are seeking to take on some 35 employees across the portfolio, but this investment goes well beyond current issues. ‘Lifestyle benefits’ will support how staff live and work. This could include the likes of contributions towards driving lessons, paid time off the day children first start school, a day off on employees’ birthdays and pet bereavement leave.

The Crerar Academy will help employees develop skills and gain qualifications and will be available to all employees, whether in housekeeping or other specialties. The aim is to support lifelong learning and career progression through university partners, industry body scholarships and a SVQ partnership to help staff gain formal qualifications.

Turning back ‘down south’, The Scarlet and Bedruthan Hotel in Cornwall, owned by family group Red Hotels, have committed to the Real Living Wage, not only to support employees but because they believe guests will make conscious choices about ethical practices and sustainability. Everyone working on hourly rates at the hotel will receive a minimum of £9.50 an hour, regardless of age, well above government-set minimum rates, with salary reviews in September for other staff.