Brexit 'not helping skills shortage' in tourism sector
A skills shortage is affecting Northern Ireland's tourism sector, a leading hospitality figure has said.
Marianne Hood, chairperson of the Northern Ireland branch of the Institute of Hospitality, spoke at the launch of the 25th Institute of Hospitality Awards for Professionalism.
She said the industry was predicting a dramatic fall in the numbers of chefs, restaurant managers, hotel managers and serving staff - the biggest threat now facing the sector.
A report by the Institute showed that the seven hospitality roles most at risk are waiters, bartenders/baristas, hosts, hotel concierges, chefs, restaurant managers and hotel managers.
And she said the predicted exodus of workers from overseas - most likely as a result of Brexit - had to be balanced with additional encouragement for locals to join the industry.
"Without the hospitality sector, our super successful tourism industry would be a non-starter," said Ms Hood. "Accommodation providers, restaurants and bars are the pulsating heart of our visitor experience, the very essence of Northern Ireland. While Northern Ireland continues to take strides forward as a competitive destination with world class and widely recognised food and drink offers as well as top quality accommodation, the risk lies in recruitment, staff retention and the people we need.
"Hospitality is not just about the people. It is about trained, skilled professionals who know how to marry our natural sense for hospitality to commercially successful standards. Most people in this business agree that the key challenge is getting trained and skilled personnel across all functions.
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"Brexit has shown how reliant our sector is on the ability of people to move here for work."
The Institute of Hospitality's 25th Awards for Professionalism will take place at a gala dinner on May 15 next year at the Crowne Plaza in Belfast.