How the hospitality industry can protect its future

Current political, economic and social factors are all casting a degree of uncertainty over the hospitality industry. For instance, there isn’t a business within the sector that’s not affected by staff shortages and ambiguity surrounding Brexit – it’s certainly a testing time for operators looking to safeguard for the future.

In light of this, Jill Whittaker, managing director of HIT Training, discusses why the sector needs to come together to protect the future of our industry and provide aspirational career opportunities for the next generation.

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“A key obstacle for the industry is plugging the skills gap. Organisations large and small are struggling to attract and retain the talent they need to help their business not only run effectively, but to grow. This isn’t a challenge that can be solved on a case-by-case basis, it’s an industry-wide problem that needs an industry-wide solution.

“To protect the future of our industry, the sector needs to work together to utilise its combined resources and support hospitality businesses of all shapes and sizes.

“This need for collaboration is especially poignant when you consider there’s £3bn unspent Apprenticeship Levy funding in the UK, and less than half of hospitality businesses have currently used their Levy pot. As such, there is a huge untapped opportunity to use this capital to help tackle the skills shortage and protect the future of the sector.

“As a reminder, the Apprenticeship Levy, launched in April 2017, applies to all businesses with an annual PAYE bill of over £3m at the rate of 0.5% of their total pay bill. Businesses which fall under this threshold must pay 10% of the cost of apprenticeships, with the government funding the remaining 90%.

However, contributions to the scheme are only banked for 24 months and, therefore, businesses have until May 2019 to use their initial retrospective funding pots. Employers need to act now to ensure this vital funding remains within the sector and is used to support the hospitality industry as a whole.

“Employers can take full advantage of the Apprenticeship Levy by using this funding to upskill their workforce. There’s also the opportunity for Levy-paying businesses to support others within the industry by transferring 10% of their Levy to other SMEs and charities (this will increase to 25% in April 2019).

“That’s why we’ve launched the Don’t Waste: The Future of Hospitality campaign, which has been created to help the sector avoid losing out on this capital. As part of the initiative, we’re encouraging Levy-paying business in the hospitality sector to pledge to fund at least one apprenticeship outside of their company. This comes as new research revealed that 65% of Levy-paying hospitality businesses are currently unaware they can transfer 10% of their funds to help support other businesses.

“The initiative is already gaining traction with a number of sector-leading companies signed up to the pledge and to support the campaign, including Bidfood, UKHospitality, the Institute of Hospitality (IoH) and The Springboard Charity.

“With challenges from the skills shortage and political uncertainty presenting ongoing issues for operators, now is the time to join forces and strengthen the industry. And with millions of pounds specifically earmarked for training and development in the hospitality industry potentially going unspent, we’re wholeheartedly encouraging businesses to maximise the funds from the Apprenticeship Levy to protect the future of the sector.”

Click here for more information on the Don’t Waste: The Future of Hospitality campaign or to pledge a percentage of your Apprenticeship Levy fund to the sector, please visit: http://bit.ly/hitpledge1.

By Jill Whittaker, managing director of hospitality training platform, HIT Training

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