Before the Covid-19 pandemic, UK Hospitality research predicted an expected growth of 3.9% year on year for our sector. We were problem-solving the shortage of new entrants to the market and worrying about the impact of Brexit.
The biggest challenges for managers were choosing which market segment to target, keeping an eye on the amazing new competitor openings around the corner, and maintaining the quality of service in an ever-evolving cacophony of the guests’ needs.
These challenges seem so far gone as our focus is on crisis management and the ability to survive. The ability to forward plan is compromised with many GMs across the sector opting for only six-month forecasts. Reporting on the true losses our sector is making vary between analysists, with CGA reporting as high as £30b losses in revenue, and 87% drop in sales across the hospitality sector.
Leaders in hospitality businesses around the country are under immense pressure to create new products in a volatile market.
Investing in people development can feel too much to contemplate with all of the competing priorities, but it is one area businesses should consider to keep ahead of the competition.
We have seen from hotel clients that meaningful apprenticeship programmes, and maximising on government grants available, can support companies on the road to recovery as well as tackle short term objectives.
We are hoping to see the long term, organisational impact of these programmes in a year.
Meaningful apprenticeship programmes are built around the business and are situational. They should add value not just to the individual, but also their department and the business. They can add true value to a business in the following areas:
- Apprenticeship training content should support the development of transferable skills that streamlined teams need. In hotels, for examp, we need a receptionist to be able to confidently take F&B orders and discuss the cleaning methods in the bedrooms. Apprenticeships can support your team members in building this knowledge and confidence to use it.
- Training content should be fully aligned to a brand’s organisational culture – apprentices are developed to be able to carry the message in the business and mentor/coach others to understand the vision of the business. Apprentices should be change agents.
- The apprenticeship is designed to underpin the success of the business by introducing relevant projects as part of the programme. An example of this is assigning an apprentice who is completing a Hospitality Manager Level 4 apprenticeship a task to design an opening procedure for the F&B outlets in a hotel or any other foodservice venue. The apprentice will have the support of a hospitality industry expert who is their tutor to complete this project and will bring a direct benefit to the business while learning how to do process design, or how to manage and implement change.
- The apprenticeship provider can offer added value to organisations, via their apprenticeship programmes. In addition to the core content of the apprenticeship, the provider should be training situationally relevant content. Examples of this are equality and diversity workshops or clinical cleanliness modules that supports apprentices.
- The apprenticeship content should encourage the development of leadership skills and filter the positivity and motivation to all the team members in the business.
Apart from affecting the quality of service and deliverables in the business, meaningful apprenticeship programmes should be a key solution for the business in the next six months because they are part of the support package available to the hospitality industry.
There are several opportunities for businesses to recruit new employees of the 16 to 24 year age band and retain the previous ones by creating new positions or reviewing the contracts of employment. These opportunities can be combined into a clear recruitment and retention strategy to maximise the funding available. Below are examples of how this can be possible:
- Apprenticeships – £2,000 grant for employers per apprentice hired under the age of 25, and £1,500 for those over 25, for six months starting 1 August (in England). The grants are paid directly to the employers at month three and month 12 of the programme. One of Umbrella Training’s clients is looking to receive more than £15,000 in January and a further £15,000 in August for the 20 apprentices they are starting in September.
- A one-off £1,000 payment to employers for every furloughed employee retained to the end of January 2021 – people who return from furlough can apply for apprenticeships and can be funded under that scheme.
- “Kickstart scheme” – six-month paid work placements for 16- to 24-year-olds on Universal Payments cover national minimum wage for 25 hours per week, plus National Insurance, and pension contributions. We are exploring whether someone who is on a ‘kickstart scheme’ will also able to be put on a traineeship and/or apprenticeship to maximise development opportunities and grants available.
- £1,000 grant per trainee for employers who take on new trainees aged 16 to 24 in England. Traineeships are shorter programmes that include a work placement. These last anything between six weeks and six months and aim to provide young people with a ‘flavour’ of the industry and allow employers to understand if a trainee is a right fit. A well designed pre-apprenticeship training programme would fit into this category and would make a lot of difference in supporting you with the recruitment of your local workforce and the longevity of the business.
All of these solutions and benefits are available to you fully funded either through your apprenticeship levy or through levy gifting. London-based employers also have access to London Progression Collaboration ‘Reskilling the Recovery’ funds, while those outside of London can receive additional levy funds by one of Umbrella Training’s business partners.
It’s clear that the industry is having a tough time, however, this will not be permanent. Progressive businesses need to look at short-term fixes without ignoring the long-term impacts. We will get through this.
By Jo Simovic, COO, Umbrella Training