Why the Skills Shortage in the Hospitality Industry?

July 17, 2021, 12:20 PM EDT

Across the world, the hospitality sector is finally opening its doors again, albeit cautiously. With restrictions easing and vaccines being successfully rolled out on an international scale, travellers’ minds are once again turning to vacations, whether it be at home or summers spent abroad. This has meant that businesses are busy recruiting staff that had to be let go at the height of the pandemic. In the U.S. alone, there was an employment increase of 292,000 within the Leisure and Hospitality sectors for May alone, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

However, with more and more businesses reopening, it’s becoming evident that a new crisis is emerging and one where hospitality is feeling the pinch more than most. Huge staff shortages and a lack of skilled workforce mean hoteliers are struggling to recruit. Rather than being a localized problem, this labor shortage is being reported all over the world.

Why Is It Happening?

It has been described as the perfect storm. In an industry that is often characterized by low pay and long hours, the pandemic was an opportunity for many hospitality workers to retrain for better job security or avail of government benefits. It has also sent many migrant workers back to their home countries, exacerbating the problem. Existing staff has been working longer hours to make up for the shortfall leading to low job satisfaction and resulting in even more job losses. There are reports from workers that the long hours combined with wearing masks and social distancing is also taking its toll.

Another problem seems to be that the rise of remote working, which has accelerated during the pandemic, is attracting the millennials who tend to favor more flexible working hours. This is the same generation that is usually the forefront and face of hospitality. It’s easy to see how all these factors combined are having a knock-on effect within the industry.

It has been described as the perfect storm…

In the hospitality sector, having already borne the brunt of the economic fall-out, there are calls for government incentives such as additional funding and better training schemes to help attract workers. In many cases, hotels have been forced to raise wages and offer bonuses for sign-ups and referrals.

What Can I Do to Attract the Right Staff?

If you’re experiencing some of the issues mentioned in the article, there are some things you can do to attract new talent.

  • Offer onsite and e-learning training and development courses to allow staff to branch out. During these difficult times, employees face an uncertain future and it’s important they know that you’re willing to invest in them.
  • Ask or incentivize referrals from your employees. Often having a friend or mentor in the company means they are more likely to stay longer and perform better.
  • In many countries, trained and skilled hospitality staff has been added to the critical skills lists. It’s worth checking with government agencies to see if you have this larger pool of resources to attract new hires from abroad.
  • Approach training centers or colleges in your area with job vacancies and an attractive benefits package explaining how graduates can develop their skills in your company.