Hospitality sector skills must be improved to make sure visitors to 2012 Olympic Games have a good time

Visitors to the London 2012 Olympics will feel let down unless HR teams in hospitality turn the sector around.

That was the warning given last week at an event aimed at improving perceptions of London ahead of the Games. Research has shown the UK’s ‘welcome’ is ranked 17th out of 35 developed nations.

London mayor Ken Livingstone launched a skills strategy to ensure poor service does not ruin the Games for millions of visitors after a study, by sector skills council People 1st, revealed that almost two-thirds of staff in the hospitality sector did not rate their customer service skills as up to scratch.

Sara Edwards, vice-president of HR at the Maybourne Hotel Group, told Personnel Today: “It’s an enormous challenge for HR to get the sector ready. [Improving skills] is going to be a huge focus.”

People 1st found that half of managers in the sector do not possess the minimum qualifications for their position. This is underpinned by a recruitment crisis that has seen one-third of the workforce leave each year, according to Edwards.

“People have been promoted too fast to management levels,” she said. “It is now about getting management and leadership right and ensuring people have the right knowledge and foundations to manage other people.”

Livingstone’s strategy includes a new online skills passport that allows staff to build up a record of experience and qualifications.

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