Bob Cotton OBE has spent a lifetime in the hospitality industry and is a member of P&G Professional’s Expert Advisory Council. He was the chief executive of the British Hospitality Association from 2000 – 2010.
In the hospitality sector we have not needed to see the results of any ‘deal’ or ‘no deal’ to feel the impact. Over the past year there have been substantial changes taking place in the labour market. We have recognised that with almost full employment, skill shortages and less people arriving to work from oversees, rates of pay, replacement costs, and wages, costs are rising much faster than general inflation. Even when we are able to recruit from Europe, we find that people are staying for much shorter periods, adding to staff turnover levels, training costs, and lower productivity levels.
To address this chronic situation, there are several lines of action to take, including retention of exiting staff, increased focus on local recruitment and ensuring that all staff receive appropriate training.
A key area I implore all businesses to look at is apprenticeships training. The current rules are financially generous and there are many companies around who will help explain apprenticeship schemes and source apprentices. There are a number of ways in which the current rules could be modified to attract more people into the scheme. The current take up is around 30% less than last year, a sad result bearing in mind the current state of the labour market.
I would ask the government to consider some of the ideas outlined below;
1. First and foremost the hospitality industry needs craft skills for chefs and front of staff. I would recommend that 75% of all training costs allowed under any government-approved funding must be related to craft skills alone.
2. Secondly, the cost of training could be reduced for smaller businesses. Hospitality is almost 80% small businesses and they must be encouraged to take on craft apprentices. To encourage local recruitment into the sectors, careers advice must be improved in schools and be a part of an OFSTED inspection. In addition, I would ask all managers to seek out links with local schools and take up programmes like the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts Adopt A School programme, which sees hospitality professionals deliver food education to primary schools. In additional, Springboard’s FutureChef competitions are a great way to give school children a ‘taste’ of the industry.
3. I would also suggest it considers working closely with the shrinking retail sector on creating a conversion training course for workers from the high street, which would utilise their customer service skills and prepare them for work in the hospitality sector.
4. A final ask for government is to improve the funding of training in colleges. We need practical experience in college, not theoretical ones and this requires more money than the current allowance of £6,000 per student.
To accompany apprenticeship programmes I would urge businesses to simultaneously invest in staff training. It is important to invest into employees, whether interns or long-term veteran employees. All staff must receive continual education, which helps improve employee loyalty and reduce turnover. This can be done by investing 1% of payroll in programmes. It’s achievable to businesses of all sizes.
Training provides productivity through efficient processes as staff will use the right product correctly, every time. This can be supported by installing, easy-to-use, effective and efficient auto-dosing systems, like those in the P&G Professional range. These systems eliminate the guesswork in cleaning, as products are accurately dosed at the touch of a button. P&G Professional provides complimentary training ensuring those working with the equipment feel comfortable completing their daily cleaning routine.
In summary, we must recognise the key role of all levels of management to set the right level of investment in improving people skills, motivating staff and training, so that they do not leave. A long-term view of the value of investing in people is essential. If businesses do not act now, the continued growth and prosperity of the sector will be under threat.
To learn more about P&G Professional and its professional cleaning systems please visit www.pgpro.co.uk or call 0800 716 854.