Low pay stops hospitality being flavour of the month

Low pay remains an obstacle to recruiting and retaining staff in the hospitality industry, according to an annual labour market review.

The Hospitality Training Foundation’s review said that although the minimum wage had led to a rise in pay rates, the proportion of men earning less than £200 a week is more than four times higher than all other industries.

A total of 90 per cent of men in hospitality earn less than £350 a week. Men earn £123 a week less than counterparts in other non-manual jobs, while for women the figure is £68.

Some 30 per cent of people who left the industry cited pay as the reason, compared with 25 per cent a year earlier. Such figures are contributing to skills shortages: 104,200 vacancies were notified to JobCentres between May and July 1999. Of these, 44 per cent remained unfilled at the end of the quarter.

Phil Raynsford, the foundation’s communications manager, said, “There is no doubt pay is contributing to the skills shortages and labour turnover figures. In some occupations such as chefs and kitchen porters, it is starting to become a real problem.”

But he also warned that the raw data did not include the many benefits common in the industry – free or cut price accommodation, tips, perks, free use of equipment and uniforms.

“Not all employers provide these, and there is little doubt that as an industry we should be starting to invest in our people. We have got to start spending more on training and thinking about career paths,” he said.

Employment levels within the hospitality industry have now fallen for two years running. Peaking in 1997 at 1.90 million employees, rates fell to 1.89 in 1998 and went down to 1.78 last year – although analysts say it will start to rise again after 2002.

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