New partnership builds exciting new skills links in hospitality sector
"This collaborative approach to identifying and solving problems is a blueprint for how we can look at improving skills issues in other sectors."
Warwickshire County Council is committed to addressing the skills gap by forging productive links between businesses and schools and colleges in the county.
This strategy supports employers to get the talented new blood they need while assisting young people to become equipped for productive careers - and in turn helps keep the county's economy strong.
During recent employability events and feedback from the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber branch meetings, many hoteliers spoke of difficulties they face in attracting people to advertised roles and to the sector in general. Businesses asked for help in promoting the sector to young people and encouraging them to consider training for a career in the catering industry.
Previously the sector has utilised a blend of apprentices and European workers to bridge any gaps and meet the demand of the industry with a steady level of retention and upwards progression. But the industry has seen a dramatic drop in applicants and students joining apprenticeship and study programmes and this is causing serious operational issues.
To tackle this problem a partnership was created, headed by Chris Steadman of Q Hotels, Dave Lennox from The Careers and Enterprise Company and Fay Winterburn, Warwickshire County Council's business skills advisor.
This partnership has drawn in support from the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce and the Coventry and Warwickshire Growth Hub, along with colleges and training providers. It's mission: To raise awareness of the hospitality sector, enhance existing support and, critically, look at how the sector and associated partners can adapt their approach to the changing market and attract talent.
Several factors are hampering the recruitment of apprentices for the hospitality sector. They include more young people deciding to go to university or take a gap year or apply for local jobs. Many young people are simply unaware of opportunities provided by apprenticeships, particularly in this sector.
The new campaign kicked off with a highly successful Hospitality Employability event which brought together 13 Warwickshire schools, college and training providers and six hotels. Feedback revealed that many people made great connections and identified future routes of support.
The group talked through the difficulties faced by the sector, forged common areas of focus and created a suite of actions that could be shared by all. One of those actions swiftly followed at Shipston High School where all Year Ten students took part in a workshop showing the varied opportunities available for them within the industry.
Joanne Hammick, general manager at The Stratford Manor, Q Hotels, attended to talk about her role and career. She also brought along two of her apprentices who are studying for their degree while working for the hotel.
The group talked about various job roles, apprenticeships and opportunities such as working while getting a degree financed. A practical fun session followed where students had to set a formal dinner table and come up with suggestions for what would be needed to be considered a four-star hotel.
Louise Moorman the Work Related Co-ordinator at Shipston High School, talked about the wonderful feedback from students. Some of the quotes included: ‘Best careers lesson ever,’ ‘I hadn’t thought of doing that’ and ‘I am going to apply for that apprenticeship.’ Three students have already signed up for work experience places at the hotel.
Fay Winterburn said: "Receiving this kind of feedback from the young people is very rewarding as this event was something new for us and developed by purely listening to the business needs of Warwickshire. We are very proud of its success which was only made possible by the group members reacting so quickly to the support on offer.
"This collaborative approach to identifying and solving problems is a blueprint for how we can look at improving the skills issues for other sectors that may also be experiencing skills shortages."