Coventry and Warwickshire’s hospitality businesses need to “adopt an inclusive approach to their recruitment to try and solve the industry’s vacancy crisis”, according to business leaders.
Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with Destination Coventry and Coventry City Council, recently brought together a panel of eventprofs at a Recruitment and Skills Summit to discuss challenges around staffing, recruitment and skills.
It comes at a time when staff shortages are causing one in three UK-based hospitality businesses to close on one or more days a week, according to a recent UKHospitality survey, while the latest Office for National Statistics data shows there are around 152,000 hospitality vacancies in the UK.
Corin Crane, chief executive at the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce, chaired the summit, and he was joined by Glen Smailes, strategic lead for skills at Coventry City Council, and Shaun Hall from the West Midlands Combined Authority.
Role of recruitment
Fleur Sexton, CEO and founder of training specialist PET-Xi, was on the panel and said that hospitality businesses need to overhaul their recruitment strategies to fill vacancies.
She said: “The workforce is out there, but hospitality is only going to solve this recruitment crisis when it gets to a point when nobody is left behind – whether that is single parents, over-50s, school leavers, refugees or ex-offenders.”
The UK Government
Sandra Kelly, from UKHospitality, underlined the role that the UK Government has to play in rejuvenating the hospitality industry.
She added: “We can point to Covid and Brexit as being disruptive, but the truth is that the UK has never really had a strong talent pipeline from education feeding into the hospitality industry.
“The UK currently has around 8,000 qualifications for any sector, yet in Canada and the Netherlands there are up to 100, which is where we need to get to in order to ensure that the training we are providing to recruits is relevant to industry.
“Last September, the government also made the significant move of enabling prisoners to start studying an apprenticeship whilst they were serving their sentence – regardless of their employment status. This means that we can soon get to a stage where, when ex-offenders are released back into society, they are already skilled and equipped to contribute to a hospitality setting.”
For businesses unable to fill vacancies, Crane urged them to “adopt a collaborative mindset”.
“Reach out to organisations such as your local chamber. That way we can signpost them in the right direction – whether that is for recruitment, or funding for training that is tailored to both prospective and existing workforces.”
Paul Jones, managing director of Destination Coventry, concluded: “We need to change people’s perception of working in hospitality.
“Here at Destination Coventry, we want to address that, which is why we are working with senior leaders and rising stars from businesses across the region, to share their success stories and change public’s sentiment towards working in the sector.”