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Accor has launched an apprenticeship scheme to encourage new and existing employees to further their skills and move into new areas of hospitality.


As Kilic notes, there are a number of quick fixes that the industry can make to recruitment strategies, to ease the problem in the here and now. “The pressure to attract, recruit and retain new talent is relentless,” she admits, “but we can make a silver lining out of this extraordinary situation. This is a fantastic opportunity to challenge ourselves and explore options that, whatever the reasons (time, budget, expertise, priority) we were not considering enough in the past. There is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution that applies to all hotels, locations, jobs and candidates and, therefore, we need to be more creative, more disruptive and reset our view on recruitment in general.”


“Hospitality matters because it has heart and people are the heart. It is people who care; who connect; who create experiences; who create memories; who look at their businesses and think ‘how can I help’ or ‘how can I do more’.”


Sophie Kilic The time is now


Kilic suggests a combination of the effective communication of opportunities for careers and development within the industry, the introduction of staff benefits and optimised working conditions, and the continuous exploration of new initiatives to attract a much wider pool of candidates. In other words, now is the moment to act and make the changes that the sector has needed for a number of years, so that UK hospitality can begin to rebrand itself for a brighter future.


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Yet post-Covid-19 concerns will continue to linger, even as the world moves out of the pandemic – not least among them, the question of the work- life balance that many have re-evaluated since having the opportunity to work from home. Given that a large number of hospitality roles play out in high-pressured environments, and that remote working remains, for the most part, an impossibility for these jobs, how can serious mental health concerns for workers be addressed moving forward? “There is great flexibility […] in the hospitality sector,” Kilic asserts. “In a hotel, there are peaks and troughs of business that can be staffed creatively – for instance, the period in the middle of the day between school drop off and pick up is often busy in hotels and, therefore, offers a great opportunity for working parents. Hospitality has changed, and continues to adapt and improve. People are our greatest asset and employers recognise that.”


At the end of the day, it is this that underpins both the present and the future of hospitality for Kilic, as for many employers across the country: if it wants to survive, the sector needs to look after its staff as much as its customers. “We are committed to building back better,” she says, “and that’s not just about ESG, it’s about our people too. Throughout the pandemic we have demonstrated a people-first approach to hospitality. This is the key. “Hospitality matters because it has heart and people are the heart. It is people who care; who connect; who create experiences; who create memories; who look at their businesses and think ‘how can I help?’ or ‘how can I do more?’. People are the heart and soul of hospitality. People have been and will always be the key.” ●


Hotel Management International / www.hmi-online.com


tomertu/Shutterstock.com


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