Hospitality is one of the worst hit sectors by the recession with jobs being cut in each of the past nine months and the number of people employed in the sector falling at its fastest rate in 12 years.
Yet the sector still struggles with dramatic skills shortages for chefs in both permanent and temporary positions, despite the number of people on the jobs market soaring to nearly two million.
The Chartered Institute for Purchasing and Supply index for the services sector, published last week, found hotels and restaurants suffered the worst contraction as new orders slowed and prices were slashed. The index rose slightly to 42.5 from 40.2 the previous month, where less than 50 shows a fall in activity, but this is close to the lowest level since 1996.
Meanwhile, the Report on Jobs by the Recruitment and Employment Confederation and professional services firm KPMG found demand for staff had plummeted to a 12-year low in the past month. However, it reported that hoteliers were still struggling to fill skills gaps for chefs and butlers.
Ciara Hassan, acting HR director at the Landmark Hotel group, told Personnel Today that HR had a real challenge to develop skills internally to meet gaps.
“Like many hotels we have a recruitment freeze. The main issue here is to look at the talent pool that’s within and keep them engaged and motivated,” she said.
“We’ve always had a shortage of good chefs coming through [before the recession]. We’re working to raise the profile of the profession and looking at how to get students and graduates to work with the company and getting them trained up in the key skills.”
The Report on Jobs revealed that permanent staff vacancies fell to a new low of 24.7 (where 50 means no change) in January (down from 29.2 in December), decreasing at the fastest pace since the survey was first published in 1997.
Average salaries for new recruits also plummeted, with the surge in candidate availability in recent months placing negotiating power firmly in the hands of the employers.