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Hospitality sector must work with Government to create a coherent employee skills package, says employment minister Jim Knight

David Woods , 24 Jun 2009

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Employers in the hospitality and tourism sectors must work with the Government to "cast the net wider" to link skills to jobs, according to the minister for employment and welfare reform.

Speaking this morning to HR leaders in the hospitality sector at the Hospitality, Leisure and Tourism breakfast, organised by People 1st and Jobcentre Plus, Jim Knight said: "We need to pull all the things the Government offers employers into a coherent package to develop an industry standard - a hospitality diploma for the unemployed."

Also speaking this morning to HR directors from companies including Whitbread, Travelodge and McDonald's, Barbara Follett, minister of state for culture and tourism, explained that tourism is the fifth-largest industry sector in Britain and expects to recruit approximately 200,000 additional members of staff by 2017.

But she added: "For recruiters in the tourism sector there is a frustratingly high turnover of staff and, as a result, skills shortages mean one in five vacancies are filled by under-trained staff. Employers have to prepare staff before they take them - train your staff then bring them in."

Employers in the sector were encouraged to take advantage of government initiatives such as work trials, where employers give applicants the chance to work for a number of weeks before making a recruitment decision. Another option is pre-employment training for job applicants before offering them employment.

The Government also gives employers that take on staff, who have been on jobseekers allowance for six months or more, a payment of £1,000 per staff member as well as an additional £1,500 for training.

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