A review on the skills gaps and shortages with an analysis of how the industry is responding to resolve these issues.
It has been a challenge for the hospitality industry to get properly skilled employees. there are a lot of properly trained and motivated hospitality personnel in the industry but they are not enough. In a way this is a very positive thing, as it shows that the industry is doing very well such that it needs good staff all the time. This is a very good example of the demand being more than the supply. For quite a while now there has been skills shortage globally. The foodservice consultants society international predicts that this shortage will continue to be witnessed over the next couple of years.
High employee turnover rates is one of the main reasons for these shortages. Most people especially the youth view the hospitality careers as a launch pad to greater careers. Hence even after training the employee have been trained, they still move on to other careers hence having to start the training process all over again. Most hospitality jobs cannot match the high wages that other industries can afford to pay, hence very difficult to retain employees once they get a job offer from someone else. Another contributing factor is that the working hours in most hospitality industry and especially hotels are not convenient or friendly to employees and more so those that have families.
Inability to produce enough skilled workforce in a particular country may also lead to their being a gap in the industry. Most of these countries rely heavily on foreign labor force to fill this gap. This is a creative solution but it can also be a very dangerous situation to rely on as political uncertainty and instability may lead to lose of that labor force. A good example being the on-going uncertainty regarding the BREXIT where the employers have to layoff workers due to the uncertainty of the labor laws that will be put in place especially the UK hotels and restaurants that rely heavily on European workers. The middle east is a unique place, where the oil rich countries such as the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia have more foreign workers that citizens. political crisis such as the killing of a Saudi journalist led to international outcry leading to workers return home due to the chaos created. this often leads to the labor force being in short supply.
Skills gap and shortage may affect the hospitality I a couple of ways which include its inability to compete. If the staff are lowly skilled or are not enough, this will lead to poor quality services and products offered to guest. leading them to look for alternatives. The industry also risk becoming a less people centric as they focus on fast paced service and becoming more automated as the business rely less on their staff.
Industry stakeholders are setting up institutions that train hospitality personnel the right so as to bridge the gap. In Kenya alone colleges such as IHTI, BOMA, Amboseli institute of hospitality and technology and top chefs culinary institute among others have all come up. These institutions provide tailor made curriculum that’s are geared towards the hospitality industry. They even go a a notch higher in curating these curriculums to fit around the student’s strengths. They aim to produce students whose skills are geared towards the job market. Hence upon completion of these courses the students take little to no time in getting assimilated to their jobs without getting overwhelmed. Hospitality establishments are also investing a lot of resources to provide inhouse training to their staff. The better the on job training the better the chances of retaining staff.
One of the main ways to tackles these gaps and shortages by focusing more resources on staff attraction and retention. The human resource department is literally the most important department in the hotel, as it’s the staff that can make or break an organization as they are the ones that interact with the clients. Staff retention saves the employers money. The business is also able to retain their most skilled who can in turn train and act as role model for new or entry level staff. So as retain their staff most establishment are more geared towards staff engagement where they here out the staff grievances. This concerns can be acted upon by increasing their wages, and rolling out incentive programs such as rewarding the best chefs or waiters as a way to boost staff retention. Most business are now creating a positive culture where they encourage diversity while acting fairly to all employees. Key hospitality stakeholders are now routinely carrying out Expos where they showcase their products while showing people that the hospitality industry has different good career paths and should not be treated just as a stepping stone. A good example being the Kenya skills show 2019, where institutes such as IHTI and BOMA participated in an interactive skills and career Expo to interact with potential hospitality staff which was held at the KICC