By Michelle Tyson, founder, Tyson Wilson Recruitment
In recent years, the hospitality and tourism industry in Northern Ireland has been booming, and trend reports from data giants such as PWC, Deloitte, and the Northern Ireland Tourism Board indicate the future of the industry is buoyant.
In 2018, an estimated 2.6 million people from outside of Northern Ireland visited the region, and over 2 million NI residents took an overnight trip within NI. The economic value of both external and internal tourism last year reached an unprecedented £926m, a figure which is set to grow in 2019.
Overall, this is excellent news for the tourism and hospitality industry in Northern Ireland.
However, during prosperous times such as these we often see an increase in competition within the market, with both new entrants, and key players investing in renovations and expansions.
In June 2018, the 9,000 room barrier was smashed in NI, with hotel expansion being a regular news feature throughout the year. Northern Ireland’s largest hotel with 300 rooms, The Grand Central, opened in Belfast in June, followed by the 178 room Hampton by Hilton. There are now 142 hotels in Northern Ireland, with average occupancy rates of around 75%.
While sector growth and improved performance is of course welcomed, it brings with it its own challenges and growing pains – one such issue we see on a daily basis at Tyson Wilson Recruitment is increased difficulty in attracting and retaining key talent – particularly within an industry that is already experiencing significant skills gaps.
According to a recent survey by recruitment advertising platform, NIJobs.com, the hospitality sector accounts for 1 in 10 of all jobs in Northern Ireland, and represents around 24% of all jobs advertised with the website. In addition, the UK-wide hospitality industry is expected to create approximately 500,000 new jobs over the next five years. This means increased competition industry-wide for suitably qualified and experienced candidates.
With an estimated further sector investment of around £0.5bn underway or expected to be complete by 2020 in Northern Ireland, successful recruitment and retention of employees to enable sustainable growth is a pain point that is only expected to get worse.
The hospitality and tourism sector is heavily reliant on skilled and experienced talent, generalised recruitment practices is not enough. A sector-wide skills shortage can only be addressed through sustained and collaborative efforts between industry and others, such as education establishments and local government – which are in place and underway in the province. However, in the shorter-term, businesses within the sector should be taking steps now to address their human capital issues.
Our clients tell us that building a partnership with an experienced and reliable recruitment consultant can make all the difference to your business, and to your bottom line. In today’s market, Human Resources need to be able to devote a significant amount of time and energy into the retention of personnel and the engagement of current employees. By partnering with a specialist recruitment partner, you are able to free your internal HR resource from the laborious and incredibly time-consuming process of creating job specs, advertising vacancies, short-listing candidates, and even head-hunting for specialist or senior-level talent.
At Tyson Wilson Recruitment, we are experienced in sourcing talent for temporary, permanent, and contract positions, as well as working with businesses from across the hospitality and tourism sector, such as: hotels, restaurants, catering companies, events management, and the public sector.
We are industry experts in recruiting for a wide range of roles within the sector, from Chefs and Housekeepers, to Receptionists, Porters, and Executive positions. We understand that the pace of the industry requires fast response times and quick results, which is why we offer a full service package.