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Tackling Recruitment Challenges at ScotHot 2017

Scotland’s largest food, drink, tourism and hospitality trade show, ScotHot, took place in Glasgow over March 15 & 16 2017. Nearly 200 producers and suppliers filled the SEC Exhibition Centre where key players took the opportunity to meet, network and enjoy the best that the industry has to offer. proudly sponsored the Spotlight Stage and chaired two key industry discussions, including a fascinating presentation on tackling recruitment challenges within the hospitality industry. This session was hosted by Jonathan Ballie from Scotland who was joined by a panel of industry experts; Shona Bell, Head of People from Crieff Hydro Hotels, Gordon Macintyre, Head of Department for Hospitality from the Glasgow College and Paul Wilson, Managing Director of Xpress Recruitment.

Securing talent before the competition is vital, so Jonathan opened the presentation by discussing the results of research carried out by on ‘What Top Talent Wants’. Useful points that can help employers and recruiters include showcasing your employer brand, making sure candidates know what you’re about and what they’re buying into. Ensure your interview process is uncluttered, see no more than four candidates for one position. Offer a positive career development programme, make sure candidates know that there is a structured career path and implement frequent talent reviews. Importantly, invest in and deliver a meaningful on-boarding and induction programme.

The panel discussion opened with the question, why does the hospitality industry struggle to attract top talent? Shona Bell suggested that there is a basic misperception of what hospitality is all about, that not only does the industry offer food and beverage service, but there are many roles behind the scenes in departments like finance, HR, IT and marketing. She said, “The challenge is to sell the industry to people, to let them know that there are varied careers within the sector.” Paul Wilson felt that attraction to the hospitality industry wasn’t the biggest issue, the main problem is retention and how to keep the talent that we have. He also cited Brexit, and said that the industry will need to work extremely hard in the coming years to attract home grown talent, and to help “prospective candidates understand that there is longevity in a career in hospitality.” Gordon McIntyre, through his work with the City of Glasgow College, is working with schools and with businesses to get young people out into the work place and to show them the breadth of opportunity within the hospitality sector.

Jonathan went on to ask Gordon McIntyre whether the government could be doing more to promote careers within the industry. Gordon said that a lot of work is being done in the form of new apprenticeships schemes which, he feels, have been particularly successful in Scotland. Younger people are responding positively to apprenticeships rather than to other forms of further education, which can only be good for the businesses. He did stress, however, that qualifications that can be attained through training need to be given more value to help apprentices when entering the jobs market.

A member of the audience asked the panel if industry could be doing more to work in conjunction with government and education to boost recruitment. Shona Bell thought there could definitely be more opportunities for this to happen. She feels that there is a disconnect between what educational institutes feel are the tools needed to do the job and what the industry actually demands. Businesses are in a perfect position to illustrate this. Gordon McIntyre added that in Glasgow and Edinburgh there are programmes in place where colleges are working with hotel companies, helping hospitality students along their career path and this has been a very successful initiative.

Wrapping up the discussion, a question from the floor raised the issue of senior members of the workforce and the challenges they face. Shona Bell said that according to recent research, which focused on the workforce of 2025, a third of the working population will be over 55 and industry leaders need to be thinking more flexibly and creatively to adapt to people who have very different needs. “Management and development training in the industry is a bit ‘one size fits all’”, she said. “Leaders need to understand how to be more ‘chameleon-like’ in their approach. HR should provide the tools, but businesses need to address this issue.” Gordon McIntyre said that he has seen an increase in the number of mature learners enrolling in college courses, either because of a change in circumstance or to gain more flexibility with work choices, and these are people with skills the sector should be trying to capture.

Our panel of experts give their views on hospitality recruitment challenges in our exclusive videos:

Shona Bell, Head of People from Crieff Hydro Hotels

Gordon Macintyre, Head of Department for Hospitality from the Glasgow College

Paul Wilson, Managing Director of Xpress Recruitment

ScotHot 2017 was presented by Fresh Montgomery. We would like to thank our panel of industry experts for their time and their contribution to a valuable and fascinating discussion.