Roisin McKee, Project Director, HATS Network speaks to us about the current skills shortage in the sector and the campaign developed in partnership with Tourism NI to help promote career opportunities the industry.
Northern Ireland’s hospitality and tourism industry has been one of the economic success stories, but even before the pandemic skills shortages were hitting the sector, an issue amplified by Brexit and lockdowns, resulting in a staffing crisis.
Whilst there are incredible opportunities for people to join this industry, there are still misconceptions about the types of jobs available and it’s clear there’s a need to restore confidence in the sector so that it is recognised as a stable and viable option for fulfilling careers.
To help the sector recover, businesses urgently need support to fill current vacancies and to raise the profile of positions with good employers and inspire people to consider a career in the industry.
That’s why the HATS Network partnered with Tourism NI to launch a multi-channel advertising campaign to promote the breadth of exciting career opportunities the industry.
The industry recruitment campaign aligns employers’ needs, a portal for job applicants, as well as a best practice charter.
Running until the end of March 2022, the campaign features a series of quirky eye-catching job descriptions across billboards, outdoor advertising and social media to attract attention and highlight the dynamic and fast-paced roles available, helping to attract new recruits.
Whilst recruitment challenges are not new to hospitality and tourism, as the sector begins to look forward there are key roles that are hard to recruit for, including kitchen staff, food and beverage roles, housekeeping and mid-management.
However the industry also has wider opportunities beyond the customer facing roles we as consumers experience, plus there are many self-employment and entrepreneurial opportunities in the industry.
For employers the campaign provides a chance to reach out. Businesses have a key role to play in showcasing their vacancies whether they’re part time, full time, entry level or management. And they can do so for free via CareerScope, the campaign job portal run by Springboard. To encourage more applications, businesses are encouraged, where possible to promote the flexibility and training offered in the roles.
With the challenges to attract and retain staff, companies are looking at what they can offer and many are already making great strides addressing working practices, the culture, terms and conditions, pay and more.
The ambition of the HATS network also goes beyond the immediate recruitment issues and looks to the longer term, aiming to address talent attraction and retention in hospitality and tourism through collaboration.
As an employer-led network HATS brings together a diverse mix of employers from across the hospitality and tourism sector in Northern Ireland alongside industry associations and key delivery partners from government and education to collectively address issues around sector image, attractiveness and skills development into and within the sector.
The HATS network project is supported by Invest Northern Ireland under its Collaborative Growth Programme.
Employers can upload their vacancies for free at https://careerscope.uk.net/employer-sign-up