By Jo Simovic, COO, Umbrella Training
The numbers behind the paradox
UKHospitality has previously said there is currently a shortfall of about 188,000 workers in our sector, with the shortage of front-of-house staff and chefs being ‘particularly acute’. Sadly, we see this every day with the hospitality organisations we work with.
On the other hand, the International Labour Organization (ILO) in their report ‘ILO Monitor: COVID-19 and the world of work’ published that, globally, young people aged 15-24 have been even more severely affected by the COVID-19 crisis than adults.
They have cited that youth employment fell by 8.7 per cent in 2020, compared with 3.7 per cent for adults.
In the UK itself, on 15th July 2021, the government published youth unemployment statistics that stated that the number of young people in employment has fallen by 311,000, an 8% fall.
The number of people aged 18-24 claiming unemployment related benefits in May 2021 was still 235,000 higher than in March 2020.
What has caused the disparity?
In theory, the UK has enough young people who are unemployed to cover the staff shortages reported in hospitality. We could debate the reasons for this paradox for days but the Economist suggests the benefit system, future employees being afraid of the uncertainty, and movement of talent between industries, has caused this. We can also add the perceptions surrounding the hospitality industry have worsened.
What can we do to make a difference?
There have been many calls for change to the way hospitality operates in relation to pay, hours, and even management, in some areas.
Whilst we are seeing amazing initiatives like the Hoteliers Charter starting to make a difference, there is still a lot to do. This is a long-term battle that hospitality as a community has to work on, and government should support, as part of the Sector Deal for Tourism that was signed in 2019.
There are things we can do on a micro/organisational level that can support the recruitment and retention of young people:
Adjusting the recruitment processes – the labour market has transformed, but we are still using the same techniques to attract talent. We need to evolve our tools; we need to change our methods.
Organisations should review outreach activities and review social and online engagement.
It is important to review the image being projected. The more proactive Gen Z jobseekers have turned the tables! They do not want to come to an open day and be assessed – they want to learn, they want to engage, they want to shape their own recruitment and future development process. They are assessing our businesses.
Adjust expectations – forward thinking providers/suppliers are finding new talent pools with innovative schemes. Take, for example, our employment brand Umbrella Employ – this is an apprentice recruitment tool for our business partners. We spend a lot of time addressing the expectations of the employers at CV stage, preliminary screening stage and interview stage.
We are looking at a completely different demographic to EU workers we have attracted for years – we need to readjust the screening matrices to allow entry into jobs on account of potential and we need our systems to be able to recognise that potential.
Redesign the job and turn it into an apprenticeship – Paul Donovan, Chief Economist of UBS Global Wealth Management suggests that the paradox of the global labour market can be resolved by capturing data on ‘structural shifts’ in what the future employees need/want, and adjusting jobs to attract more people.
In addition, the LinkedIn ‘Workplace Learning Report’ says that a majority (76%) of Generation Z learners, ages 18 to 24 years old, believe learning is the key to a successful career and the way to motivate them is by focusing on career growth and fast.
Change organisational perception of apprenticeships – working on recognising apprenticeships as a developmental tool for career progression on all levels and getting the buy-in of the middle management is vital.
Use full scope of apprenticeships – apprenticeships are not just for chefs and entry level talent. Apprenticeships have evolved in the last three years to include masters level education. Apprenticeships cover every role in hospitality at every level – including GM.
Improve overall quality of internal apprenticeships – work with apprenticeship providers on making the apprenticeships responsive to the environment and constant change in the industry.
Apprenticeships should be adapted for reskilling and upskilling of adults and older workers as well as development of gen Z talent. Apprenticeships should support the development of digital and knowledge economy; apprenticeships should use technology to strengthen the effectiveness and efficiency of implementing apprenticeships.
Be innovative in our approach – Dr. Nela Richardson, Chief Economist, ADP highlights innovation as the key to unlocking the labour market paradox. The next generation of hospitality are digital natives; diversity is their norm, and they are politically progressive.
They will be judging brands at every step of the employment journey; they will want to know an organisational position in relation to global campaigns such as the BLM movement before they even engage with recruitment process; they will want brands to engage with them in their online space. Well designed apprenticeship programmes can support organisations in the quest to impress, sign up and retain this talent demographic.
The author of this article Jo Simovic will lead the H&C News Apprenticeships in Hospitality roundtable taking place at Dorchester Collection’s Coworth Park 6 October. If you would like an invitation to attend complete the form below.
I look forward to seeing you on the day.