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Culture & Tourism / Employment / 11 July 2019

Making the tourism sector deal work

As the prime minister announced the sector deal for tourism on her way to Japan for the G20, those who had worked on this for two years heaved a huge sigh of relief, tinged with trepidation because the hard work begins now!

Recruitment is an issue across the hospitality sector for three main reasons – fewer people from the EU are coming to the UK to work, full local employment, and the perception that our sector doesn’t offer a real career. Skills are a key element of the sector deal and UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls and I are working with government to set up a skills board with the aim to raise £1m to fund a major recruitment and retention campaign. A variety of targets – or key performance indicators – are written into the terms of the sector deal, from apprenticeships to mentoring and in-work training. In addition, we’ll reach out to those who want to return to work and those hard-to-reach groups for whom finding work can be a challenge.

It was appropriate, therefore, that as Theresa May was launching the sector deal, I was on my way to Newhaven Job Centre to talk about how we can help its clients find work.

From the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) and UKHospitality, to the British Institute of Innkeeping, a range of associations have long supported the Hospitality Works campaign, which helps job centre teams better understand our sector. Earlier this year the Department of Work & Pensions, which leads this government campaign, invited me to speak at its awards ceremony in Birmingham. While there I met two wonderful ladies from Lewes and Newhaven job centres, which are near where I live. One of them was taking part in the world championships for Sussex pub game toad in the hole – so there was a real interest in our sector and they were happy for me to visit so they could learn more.

Universal Credit has come in for criticism and it remains to be seen whether wider concerns with the system can be satisfactorily resolved. The team in Newhaven, however, clearly supported the system change, pointing to a myth-busting Telegraph article as evidence you no longer lose your allowances if you work for more than 16 hours, and any reduction in allowances is purely based on how much you earn.

The team said it can now use more discretion to help single parents, for example, become work-ready through skills training, interview techniques, CV writing and customer presentation. The team is looking for local employers prepared to guarantee an interview for those who have undertaken that training and, if that employer says a client also requires health and safety training, the job centre can help with that too.

Job centres used to have a reputation for sending anyone to an interview, now they are looking to match specific skills with employers. They also help disabled people find work and the online portal means face-to-face meetings aren’t required on a regular basis. They can send money for housing direct to the provider and work with charities to help the more challenging find the right role.

The care and enthusiasm of those who work in Newhaven was clear. To any employers reading this, are you in touch with your local job centre, can you guarantee an interview for candidates who have undertaken relevant training? It’s certainly worth making the link.

Written by

Brigid Simmonds

Chief Executive

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