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Shortage of skilled staff remains a key concern

The history of training is riddled with schemes that have changed at a whim


Ufi Ibrahim will take over as the BHA's new CEO on 19 July

Ibrahim to succeed Bob Cotton

Surprise choice to become BHA's new chief executive

By Tom Walker

The British Hospitality Associa- tion has announced that Ufi Ibrahim will take over from Bob Cotton as the association's next chief executive officer. The 38-year-old Ibrahim, who

is currently the chief operations officer of the London-based World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), will take over from the retiring Cotton on 19 July 2010. Despite her work with the tourism sector, she is largely unknown within the hospitality industry and has no operational experience. Ibrahim joined

WTTC in 2000 and prior to that received a BA in leisure and tourism management from the London Metropolitan University. At WTTC, her role involved advising on policymaking and the development of planning frameworks in tourism. Ms Ibrahim said she was

delighted to be appointed. She said: "Hospitality is a key pillar of Britain's economy, particularly in the long-term. "I look forward to working

with BHA members and UK tourism organisations to advance hospitality's role as a generator of employment."

Hoteliers could see millions shaved off the value of their property portfolios during 2010, according to Jones Lang LaSalle Hotels (JLLH). The real estate firm said

the fall in property prices will result in the market

"correcting itself" after a period of perceived stability spurred by lack of stock and few sales, which have resulted in prices staying roughly at 2007 levels.

© Cybertrek 2010

Value of hotel property to fall in 2010

Hotel transaction volumes

across the globe continued to fall during 2009, with the UK particularly hit by lack of activity. JLLH said the total value of hotel deals complet- ed during 2009 was £353m – a huge decline from the £1.81bn seen in 2008 and the 2007 peak of £7bn. JLLH's Mark Wynne-Smith

added that the reason for the stability in pricing was a lack of stock.

hat's the major preoccupation of every manager in the industry? As I go around the country, the

shortage of motivated, skilled staff, even at a time of high unemployment, remains the key concern. But why don't businesses train their

staff to ensure that they do have the required skills? Is it the cost of training? Apathy? High levels of staff turnover? Probably a combination of all these and other factors. At so many different levels, confusion

reigns in both the training and qualifications available and in the organisations involved. We have People 1st, City and Guilds, the Qualifications and Curriculum Development Agency and several other awarding bodies; we have UKSP and Springboard to provide careers advice; at another level we have government departments, Quangos, tourist boards and the Sector Skills Council all with a stated claim to have an interest in developing training. The industry also has its own Hospitality Skills Academy to raise standards. At yet another level, we have associations such as the BHA,

BOB COTTON is chief executive of the BHA. Leisure Opportunities is a member benefit of the BHA

the IoH, the Academy of Culinary Arts, the Academy of Food and Wine, Craft Guild of Chefs – and many others – all concerned about the shortage of trained people and all – also - keen to have an input into the development of the industry’s training programmes and qualifications. Unfortunately, all this interest has yielded little. The history

of training in the hospitality industry is riddled with initiatives which have changed at the whim of government or administrators. As a result, it’s little wonder that employers, trying to find their way through a morass of competing courses and qualifications, are confused. Unable to understand exactly what is on offer and what they should be doing to help train their own employees, they probably take the easy option and leave the training to others. We know what the problem is – but what’s the solution? There

needs to be more clarification and less confusion. A national forum to bring all the interested parties together and collectively agree the way ahead may be the first step. But even before that, 200,000 hospitality businesses need to

commit to the concept of training and skills development. In such a fragmented industry, with such a poor history of training, that’s an immensely tall order. But if we don’t meet it, we'll still be complaining about our skills shortages in sixty years' time.

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