Loving Hospitality 2022: employers come together to celebrate hospitality as a career of choice

4.5 mins

Learning and Development leads at some of our biggest hospitality partners united on 1st December at Loving Hospitality’s 2022 Summit, to discuss the important challenges in the industry and unite on remedial measures.

Topics up for discussion centred around the need for greater collaboration within their organisations to tackle the significant staffing challenges being faced.

This included the need to better engage operations teams in apprenticeship programmes, greater focus on the mental well-being of employees and the impact on revenue as salary costs rise. Noteworthy figures were illustrated about the state of the hospitality market pre and post-pandemic.

A hospitality sector outlook for 2022

Pre-pandemic, the hospitality industry provided around £130bn in economic activity annually, employing around 3.2 million people. Yet, the supply and demand issues currently experienced in the industry have seen hospitality vacancies reach 158,000 in the third quarter of 2022. Between August and September 2022 alone, it's claimed that 8.3% of the workforce left the sector, the highest level since March 2020.

Despite these staffing challenges, it’s encouraging that the industry overall is growing. In the Southwest alone there are 50,000 new hotel beds set to launch in 2023/24. Investment in the sector is there as well as public demand.

What are the key career goals for the sector?

The consensus of the Summit was that no individual business will meet these challenges on their own and that ‘coherent and collaborative’ working across the industry is required. The top four career goals discussed were:

Attracting more people, plugging skills gaps and reducing vacancies
Increasing people retention and improving employee experience
Identifying and championing industry and organisational supporters
Launching more early careers and promoting growth and career progression

Impact of apprenticeships on the hospitality sector

Apprenticeships were cited as a solution to many of the hospitality staffing challenges as well as meeting DE&I objectives. They provide a direct route into the industry which can have a big impact on retention. On average, 73% of employees are still working for the same employer two years after completing their apprenticeship.

When combined with the 18 months that it takes to complete the apprenticeship, employers are looking at an average length of service of 3.5 years, remarkably higher than the current average staff turnover.

of employees are still working for the same employer two years after completing their apprenticeship
of employees that complete an apprenticeship go on to be promoted or given additional responsibilities
of employees working towards an apprenticeship are living in a deprived area

Apprenticeships have a big impact on talent planning, with 52% of employees that complete an apprenticeship going on to be promoted or given additional responsibilities.

With social mobility and DE&I an increasing imperative for organisations, apprenticeships are making a notable contribution. Currently, 27% of employees working towards an apprenticeship are living in a deprived area.

Industry needs greater engagement from operations teams

Despite these achievements, attendees at the Summit agreed that more work is required at an organisational level to enlist support for apprenticeships as a sustainable recruitment strategy.

Currently, only 30% of operations teams understand, buy-into and support their apprenticeship strategy. The main barrier to operation team engagement is other organisational pressures and priorities (cited by 84% of operations teams ).

The task to align apprenticeships to other priorities of the business is weighty, but L&D leaders have summarised how this can be improved:

  • Better layered communication to operations teams about the benefits of apprenticeships
  • Demonstrate ROI of apprenticeship schemes
  • Celebrate apprenticeship successes within the organisation and champion achievers
  • Manage expectations of operations teams about apprentices to promote a culture of mentorship and support
  • Remove archaic language such as ‘off the job training’ which has negative connotations for teams and replace with ‘continual professional development’

Whilst a perception change may be required from operations teams, collaborative working with measurable targets could see apprenticeships transform the hospitality sector and alleviate many industry pain points.

Enhancing opportunities to engage learners

Hospitality provides not only a job, but a career with compelling progression opportunities for all ages. Apprenticeships support succession planning perfectly due to the opportunities to advance knowledge, skills and behaviours of learners at all levels.

But they not only offer opportunities to work on the front line of hospitality. Apprenticeships should also be seen as an opportunity to plug gaps within the entire organisation, from HR to digital and finance to marketing.

Lifetime’s insight consultant, Dan Kunka revealed that currently only 6% of people that achieve an apprenticeship in hospitality move onto the next level of apprenticeship.

This presents an opportunity for apprenticeships in levels 3, 4, 5 and 6 and encourages the industry to look at championing achievers.

The age of a workforce is also a chance to diversify. Currently, 44% of apprentices in hospitality are aged between 16-24 years old. There is a huge opportunity here to engage with the 45+ age group who may be return-to-workers or looking at higher level apprenticeships.

Loving Hospitality

Learning and development leads from organisations including Hilton UK&I, Whitbread, Marstons, Wagamamas, Bourne Leisure, Cairn Group, McDonald's, Mitchells and Butlers, SSP, Pret A Manger, TGI Friday’s, Travelodge and Wetherspoons joined this year’s Loving Hospitality Summit with guests from Institute of Hospitality and chef Joe Hurd.

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