Problems restrict growth of NI tourist and hospitality sector

A recent report has noted that the Northern Ireland tourism and hospitality sector has been one of the largest growth areas in expanding job opportunities since 1990.

However, a range of problems relating to recruitment, retention, skills and image could restrict its growth potential, according to the findings of the study.

The report into the Skills and Training Needs in the Northern Ireland Tourism and Hospitality Industry commissioned by Northern Ireland Skills Task Force identifies a number of fundamental problems that need to be addressed by the sector including:

  • The adoption of best practice Human Resource Management (HRM) to support "higher-value" business strategies.
  • The need to attract, retain and develop staff.
  • The structure of the industry, dominated by small owner-managed enterprises, may act as a barrier to the introduction of best practice HRM.
  • The need for the Department for Employment and Learning to actively promote the value of HRM in the sector, and to ensure that its strategies and interventions, are targeted at assisting the industry to make this strategic move.

  • Given the scale and range of issues identified by the study, the sector needs a clear and co-ordinated strategy if it is to fulfil its growth potential.

Launching the report on behalf of the Northern Ireland Skills Task Force, Chairman Bill McGinnis said: "I consider it vital that we have focused on the skills and training needs of a fast growing sector that make a considerable contribution to the economic life of Northern Ireland. This report is the fourth in a series of studies examining skill needs in priority skills areas.

"However, in recognition of published research that suggests that skills issues in tourism and hospitality worldwide may be subordinate to more fundamental issues, this is a more wide ranging and qualitative study."

The Northern Ireland Skills Task Force was established in early 1999 to advise government on issues relating to the demand for and supply of skills in the NI labour market.

Carried out by McIver Consulting, the study, which was commissioned by the Department for Employment and Learning in conjunction with the Tourist Training Trust, sought to identify the skills and training needs of the Tourism and Hospitality industry.


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