Hospitality industry addresses widespread shortages with ‘career progression programmes’

Thai Leisure Group managing director, Ian Leigh, with digital and systems manager, Bridie Fox
11/01/2018 - 07:00
2017 was undoubtedly a struggle for many hospitality businesses. Faced against increasing costs, declining household expenditures and crippling consumer confidence, as well as the impact of on-going Brexit negotiations, CGA vice president Peter Martin called it “a very tough year" for many operators.

But with a New Year comes new hope for future recruits. As latest figures revealed yesterday (10 January) show that industry-wide salaries were last year 10.4% higher than 2016 – the sector leading the UK in pay rises - and a number of companies dedicating themselves to staff development programmes, those considering a career in hospitality needn’t turn their back just yet.

Of those announced in the past month, Scottish brewer BrewDog, the Coaching Inn Group, Thai Leisure Group and the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) are just a handful of companies to have launched either apprenticeship or diploma schemes - proving their dedication to encouraging young people into the industry.

Lee Melton, head of learning and development at the Coaching Inn Group, commented: “Industry-wide demand means that investing in training is essential to recruit and retain these highly skilled team members.

“This is incredibly important to us and we hope initiatives like (our chef academy) demonstrate our investment in team members. We believe investing in high quality training will not only help to future-proof the business, but also the vibrant and creative sector in which we work.”

Just this week, parent brand of both the Thaikhun and Chaophraya restaurant chains, Thai Leisure Group, announced it has created a “dedicated apprenticeship programme for its business managers” in corporation with HIT Training. The ‘Suksaa’ course (Thai word for learning) will see employees gain insight into “wider group operations and equip them with expert business, people and customer relations skills” as they undertake a Level 4 Hospitality Manager Apprenticeship.

Group brand strategy director, James Hacon, said: “As we (Thai Leisure Group) grow and evolve as a business, retaining and reinforcing our culture, as well as offering clear career progression for our employees, have become increasingly important for us.

“We are immensely proud that currently over 80% of our business managers have been recruited internally, and we are dedicated to providing them with the bespoke training they need to grow as individuals and step up within the business.” The group is also hoping to roll out chef and front-of-house training programmes “soon,” as it continues to build and expand its portfolio across the UK.

Another welcoming decision came last year (December) when the ALMR revealed it would be launching its ALMR Diploma this month for both front and back-of-house Level 2 hospitality team members. Chief executive Kate Nicholls explained: “The diploma will provide employees with the support and education they need to progress within the sector, and will deliver a solid foundation for a potentially long and rewarding career, and a senior role within our dynamic industry.”

With staff and skills shortages widespread across the industry, this latest round of developments is just one attempt at fixing the ever-increasing, on-going issue, while better working hours (hospitality workers identified as the most ‘sleep-deprived’), conditions (56% of women having experienced “some degree of sexual harassment”) and pay (one of the “most prolific” sectors for underpaying employees), are still areas that demand critical attention. Martin concluded: “Conditions aren’t about to get any easier (this) year, but there are reasons for cautious optimism” as we head into 2018.

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