Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Hospitality in Jersey

YOUNG Islanders are shunning work in Jersey's hospitality industry and forcing firms to recruit foreign labour - despite record levels of unemployment. Last week worrying new figures revealed that at least 1,390 Islanders were now out of work - including 320 teenagers. But despite the massive rise in unemployment, hospitality firms are struggling to find Jersey-born people who want to work in their industry. Dominic Jones, director of Jersey Pottery, said that only about ten per cent of the 110 people currently employed in the firm's catering section were local.(1)

Peter Body, writing in the Jersey Evening Post, noted how the lack of investment in training in the hospitality industry had led tourism into the position where they were struggling to find local staff:

This particular roosting chicken is the result of a marked lack of interest by leaders of the tourism industry to employ and train local people in the past. The situation has improved recently because the industry has shrunk to the point where it now only consists of those with a long-term outlook and a high degree of professionalism. They realize that the industry can't rely totally on importing cheap labour.

There's not much point in hospitality employers bemoaning the fact that they can't find Jersey staff when all they are saying is that it's too much trouble and expense to train up inexperienced locals(2)

Of course, this is nothing new. A study in India in 2002 noted that:

It is generally agreed that the hotel workforce has a high level of temporary workers, substantial female employment, low levels of training, low wages, high labor turnover and gender segregation (Charlesworth, 1994; Deery and Iverson, 1996; Riley, 1991)

There is an increasing emphasis on occupations delivering services rather than being involved with the physical work to produce the goods. This means that not only is employment increasingly skewed towards service industries, but in the production industries also, the activities within them are increasingly oriented towards service activities (2)

There was an excellent letter in the Jersey Evening Post which picked up where Peter Body left off, putting flesh on the bones for where the opportunities in the hospitality industry are for youngsters - and what the industry itself needs to do to put its house in order and start to attract young people. As it doesn't appear in the online edition, I have set it out in full below:

SO the youngsters who are unemployed are shunning the hospitality industry (JEP, 28 February) and jobs are being snapped up by eager immigrant workers, swelling our already overstretched public services.

It is no secret that work in this sector is at times hard manual work, poorly paid and unsocial hours, but what about the advantages?

. It is a profession which enables you to work virtually anywhere in the world, so if you want to travel the world is your oyster.
. It is possible to gain promotion and move up the ladder even if you are not academic, so long as you are dedicated.
. You don't need to splash out on gym memberships as you keep fit while you work allowing you to enjoy your leisure time doing what you want and not exercising because you feel you ought to, having spent all week at a desk.
. Most of your friends will also be in the industry and will have similar days off, so you won't need to lose touch with friends.
. People have to eat so there wilt always be jobs in hospitality whereas finance could be gone in a blink.
. Uniform is normally included, so you'll only have to buy clothes that you like and not smart office wear as well.

And those are just some of the advantages, so what can the hospitality industry do to attract more of the youngsters? Having trained and worked in catering for much of my life these are my observations and things I would have liked.

. Make sure that shifts are arranged so that employees have two days off together; that was one thing I disliked having either two separate days off in a week or only one day - everyone deserves two days' rest, especially if doing hard manual work, and at least one weekend a month.
. Offer rewards for punctuality, dress and customer service, ok, they can't offer a bonus as in the finance sector hand-outs, but a quarterly performance bonus of say £100 would be something attractive; maybe an annual award of travel vouchers to the overall best employee. In the 80s and 90s seasonal staff used to get paid a bonus if they stayed to the end of the season, which many used to fund their winter travels.
. Provide real training and promotion opportunities.

Hospitality is not so bad but, unless it is made more attractive it will always strive to find adequate local workers. Maybe the States could offer incentives, such as free bus travel to those working in the hospitality industry, and for those school leavers who make a career out of it, give them something to work towards (such as a day working with one of the Island's top chefs) so that they are rewarded for staying in the industry and not just using it as a stepping stone until something else comes up.

So come on, all you school leavers who don't know what to do - give it a chance. You might just like it!

The States can also take a more proactive approach. In 2004, Glasgow, faced with long term unemployment, set up a programme to help train people for work in the hospitality industry, where the government and hospitality industry worked together. This wasn't a course in catering, such as we already have in Jersey at Highlands, but an initiative which covered all kinds of employment in hospitality, from catering to waiting on tables, or being a night porter at a hotel.

In Glasgow, a unique training programme was launched this year to help long-term unemployed people work in hospitality.  Hospitality Glasgow is the end result of a working party set up in 2002 to address recruitment to the city's many hotels. It included members of the Glasgow Hoteliers Personnel & Training Forum, along with Jobcentre Plus, Scottish Enterprise Glasgow, Remploy, Springboard, the Glasgow Employer Coalition, the Greater Glasgow Hotels Association and training providers. The course included a combination of class-based learning along with real experience. Trainees completed a two-week placement with one of the participating hotels, which included the Millennium Hotel, Holiday Inn Theatreland, the Hilton Grosvenor, Malmaison and the Radisson SAS. (5)

(1) http://www.thisisjersey.com/2011/02/28/come-and-join-us-3/
(2) http://www.thisisjersey.com/2011/03/03/the-hospitality-chickens-come-home-to-roost
(3) Employee Motivation and Empowerment in Hospitality, Rhetoric or Reality, V. Umashankar, A. Kulkarni, Journal of Services Research, 2002
(4) Letter to JEP, 07.03.2011
(5) Employment FOCUS: High Levels of Service; Jobcentre Plus Are Working Hard to Help Fill Jobs in the Hospitality Sector, Daily Record, 2004. Publication Date: July 8, 2004. Page Number: 10. COPYRIGHT 2004 Scottish Daily Record & Sunday; COPYRIGHT 2004 Gale Group

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