‘Skills for Success’ written by Jill Whittaker, Managing Director of HIT Training.

The hospitality industry offers a hugely diverse working environment, not just in terms of the roles available but also the location – in hospitality you can work anywhere in the world. There are career opportunities in both kitchen and front of house settings but also departments such as marketing and finance. However, this variety is not something which is widely promoted.

Despite this wide breadth of career paths, the industry is struggling to maintain staffing levels in the face of a growing skills shortage. As the Recruitment and Employment Confederation points out in its sector findings, demand consistently outstrips supply when it comes to hospitality positions.

There isn’t a business within the industry that isn’t affected by staff shortages. Organisations large and small are struggling to attract and retain the talent they need not only to grow, but even to run their business effectively.

To encourage more people to enter and stay within the industry, it’s important that employers invest in training employees in transferrable skills that will help them in a variety of hospitality positions, rather than just their current role. By doing this, talented professionals are more likely to stay within the industry if they do decide to move on, therein keeping the skills within the sector.

As a training professional, I believe strongly in the importance of vocational training and apprenticeships are an effective way to ensure your workforce has a wide skill set that will help them to progress their careers in hospitality. In fact, at HIT Training we recently conducted research which found that

Iimproving personal development for employees’ (63%), ‘tackling the skills shortage in the industry’ (58%) and ‘upskilling their workforce’ (44%) are the top three advantages of apprenticeships according to hospitality employers[1].

Although many employers are aware of the multiple benefits apprenticeships provide to both businesses and professionals, there is still a large proportion which have not yet taken advantage of their Apprenticeship Levy. Government figures show that £3bn of Levy funds remain unspent in the UK, and our research found that less than half of hospitality businesses are using their Apprenticeship Levy[2]. At a time of acute skills shortages this seems to me that an opportunity is being missed to use this capital to provide training in transferrable skills.

As a reminder, the Apprenticeship Levy, launched in April 2017, applies to all businesses with an annual PAYE bill of over £3m at the rate of 0.5% of their total pay bill. Businesses which fall under this threshold must pay 10% of the cost of apprenticeships, with the Government funding the remaining 90%.

However, contributions to the scheme are only banked for 24 months and, therefore, businesses have until May 2019 to use their initial retrospective funding pots. Employers need to act now to ensure this vital funding remains within the sector and is used to support the hospitality industry as a whole.

There’s also the opportunity for Levy-paying businesses to support others within the industry by transferring 25% of their Levy to other SMEs. That’s why we’ve launched the Don’t Waste: The Future of Hospitality campaign, which has been created to help the sector avoid losing out on this capital. As part of the initiative, we’re encouraging Levy-paying business in the hospitality sector to pledge to fund at least one apprenticeship outside of their company. This comes as new research revealed that 65% of Levy-paying hospitality businesses are currently unaware they can transfer 10% of their funds to help support other businesses[3].

With the coming few years set to be challenging for hospitality businesses, now is the time to ensure our collective workforce have the experience they need to help protect and grow our vibrant industry by investing in training for transferrable skills.  

For more information on HIT Training and its Don’t Waste: The Future of Hospitality campaign, please visit:


(1) Survey of 250 HR managers or senior figures working in hospitality. 3GEM in collaboration with HIT Training, November 2018

(2) Survey of 250 HR managers or senior figures working in hospitality. 3GEM in collaboration with HIT Training, November 2018

(3) Survey of 250 HR managers or senior figures working in hospitality. 3GEM in collaboration with HIT Training, November 2018


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