Initiatives will address feared post-Brexit hospitality skills shortage

Anne Birt-McCartney, assistant head of department for sciences and services industries at NRC, and Richard McGowan, project manager at the school of excellence and staff wellness centre at Galgorm Resort and Spa
Gary McDonald Business Editor

TWO separate initiatives have swung into place in Northern Ireland a bid to help avert a predicted severe skills shortage in the hospitality sector when freedom of movement is proposed to end in 2021.

Amid fears that restaurants, hotels, pubs and clubs will come under threat as they struggle to find indigenous workers after Brexit has prompted the establishment of a new recruitment company in Belfast specialising in management roles in the hospitality sector.

And elsewhere, Northern Regional College and the Galgorm Resort and Spa have teamed up to offer 24 paid apprenticeships in the hospitality industry starting this September.

Given the growth in the hotels industry in particular, many economists are predicting that it could be virtually impossible to find suitable staff is there is a curb on new EU workers after Brexit.

Yet industry body UK Hospitality says the sector will require around 500,000 new jobs in the next five years.

Businesswoman Nichola Daly, who has spent more than 20 years in the hospitality industry, has launched Daly Recruitment, which she says will source hospitality management roles for leading hospitality and tourism establishments.

“Experts at UK Hospitality last year revealed the hospitality industry's contribution to the UK economy has grown faster than any other sector since the economic downturn in 2008 and certainly that has been my experience," said Nichola.

“With more recruitment opportunities arising I saw a gap in the market for a recruitment company that could tailor its service specifically for this particular sector.”

She added: “I believe there is an opportunity for a focused, knowledgeable, niche hospitality management recruiter working with leading clients and candidates with nearly one in five of all jobs in the UK now being related to the hospitality and tourism sector."

Nichola has completed the Marriott International Hotel Management Development Programme in Arizona as well as having worked for leading brands such as Marriott, Posthouse and Holiday Inn.

As well as working for the Northern Ireland Hotels Federation and as a manager in the trade publication Hospitality Review, her most recent experience saw her working for a Dublin-based company recruiting for general managers and senior management roles throughout Ireland, UK and Dubai.

Meanwhile the Northern Regional College and Galgorm scheme will see 24 young people aged from 16 to 24 commence a one-year apprenticeship programme starting in September.

The apprenticeship programmes - Professional Cookery and Food & Beverage Service - offer a golden ticket to fast track employment and a rewarding career in the hospitality industry for people with the right personality and commitment to succeed.

Successful applicants will get an opportunity to ‘earn as they learn' in the award-winning Galgorm Resort and Spa, one of Northern Ireland's premier luxury hotels.

NRC's Anne Birt-McCartney said: “Professional cookery apprentices will gain invaluable experience working at the top levels alongside our highly skilled chefs, as part of our professional kitchen team.

"Food and beverage service apprentices will develop their hospitality skills and learn how to match customer needs with available products and services in the highly customer focused environment in Galgorm Resort. This really is a gilt-edged opportunity to get ahead in hospitality.”

Richard McGowan from the Galgorm's school of excellence and staff wellness centre added: “The apprentice programme will give young people an opportunity to gain qualifications and relevant experience needed to get ahead and on completion, successful apprentices will be offered employment.

"Hospitality is a people-centred industry and, if you are motivated, enthusiastic and willing to learn, you can progress quickly in this industry. The programme is a professional development programme to help people get a foot in the door.”

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