Businesses, the public agencies and colleges have come together in the Peak District and Derbyshire to improve skills pathways into hospitality careers.
Responding to the ‘perfect storm’ of COVID-19 and EU Exit, a business-led taskforce has been established to shift perceptions about careers in the sector and, in the short-term, lobby for more investment in skills and a relaxation of working visas to close the current recruitment gap. Hospitality is a key industry in the Peak District and Derbyshire, attracting 45 million visitors annually, generating an output of £2.5 billion into the economy and supporting 31,000 jobs.
The task force has jointly produced a charter setting out their aspirations for change. The charter is the start of a commitment, over the next 5-10 years, to:
- creating links with schools and inspiring young people to choose tourism and hospitality as a career, showing that the sector offers rewarding careers and not just ‘jobs’
- educating schools and careers advisers about the sector
- dispelling myths about a low pay and long hours culture; and
- creating fit for purpose training programmes that lead to higher level qualifications.
There is a real challenge to overcome perceptions that hospitality is just low skilled and low paid jobs. The truth is a huge diversity of professional and customer service roles that can offer a rewarding career.
As a sector, hospitality has a vital role in rural and village economies, often providing the main opportunities for enterprise and employment. Partners in the Peak District and Derbyshire have found that provider understanding of jobs roles and skills training can be out of date against current practices and are working with colleges to redesign and improve the fit of training to business needs. As can be seen in Visit Peak District's 'great place to work' video, employers are supported to invest in workplace learning, helped to increase contact with colleges to ensure that tutors are familiar with current practice in the sector and, through Derbyshire County Council, have access the apprenticeship levy transfer scheme to fund SME training.
The hospitality task force forms part of Derbyshire County Council’s response to COVID-19 recovery and growth, providing a focus on upskilling the workforce, retraining and providing routes to better employment. Through working with community partners and co-ordinating involvement of DWP and employers, the Council aims to improve the effectiveness of the skills system.
A more flexible approach to apprenticeship is needed for hospitality. This includes both the application of the 20 per cent off-the-job training rule and allowing apprentices to try different roles in hospitality before settling on their career pathway, to allow for a better fit between people and jobs.
Creating locally tailored approaches to matching skills demand with supply benefits business and helps residents to access more rewarding employment opportunities. Through the work of the hospitality task force, the Peak District and Derbyshire are showing how closer working between businesses and public agencies can help define and meet the skill needs of a key local sector. They are mobilising employers to improve working conditions and invest in the skills and careers of their staff, while also articulating a clear demand for up to date and flexible training provision for new entrants and career advancers.