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Despite the hospitality industry’s gradual recovery from the impact of the pandemic, the sector continues to face challenges in managing its human resources. The post-pandemic time has brought to light the vulnerabilities of the hospitality industry and has led students and professionals to consider alternative career paths. Student enrolments in hospitality courses declined considerably between 2019 and 2022. To address this, the Hotel and Restaurant Association of Western India (HRAWI) has created a special task force of academic think tanks to try and bridge the shortfall in talent, manpower and declining enrolment of students in hospitality courses.
The task force comprises of hospitality stalwarts including heads of educational institutes of various IHMs, owners of hospitality establishments, industry veterans and members of the HRAWI. Arun Kumar Singh, Principal, FIHM; Irfan Mirza, Principal, V M Salgaonkar IHM; Pallavi Chaudhari, Director, D.Y. Patil School of Hospitality & Tourism Studies; Dr Rohan Soni, Principal, Amro College of Hotel Management, Nashik; Dr Jagat K. Mangaraj, Principal, IHM Ahmedabad; Pradeep Shetty, President, HRAWI; Jimmy Shaw, Honorary Secretary, HRAWI; Vishal Kapoor, GM, Radisson Blu Mumbai; Kamlesh Barot, Ex-officio Member, HRAWI and Sandeep Talaulicar, Executive Committee Member, HRAWI presently form the core team of the special task force.
“As new opportunities continue to open up, the industry is also realizing the need to attract new talent. To address this, HRAWI has created a special task force with three key objectives in mind. These include, devising a scheme or strategy for making a career in hospitality attractive to students. To revisit the present-day hospitality education system and curriculum by involving academicians and industry as part of a consultation exercise to make suitable recommendations to the National Council and the Ministry of Tourism. To take measures to help members tide over the talent shortfall with proper training tools including informational videos, info-graphics, and data driven analysis and support, among other literature,” says Pradeep Shetty, President, HRAWI.
Data reveals significant skill gaps in the Indian hospitality sector, particularly in hotel management and food production. Practical knowledge deficiency (33 per cent) and outdated courses (24 per cent) are prevalent in the food production discipline. Similarly, management staff also faces challenges due to lack of practical knowledge (43 per cent) and outdated courses (29 per cent). Front office managers, assistants, bell captains, bell boys, and travel desk personnel lack essential skills such as communication, active listening, handling billing software, team management, and understanding service offerings.
“The shortage of skilled talent in critical areas of the hospitality industry is a pressing concern. To overcome this challenge, we actively seek talented and experienced chefs who can share their expertise and knowledge with students. By bridging the gap between industry professionals and education, we aim to equip students with the skills and experience needed to excel in the hospitality sector. The talent shortage is most acute in lower and upper-level positions, while mid-level positions experience a more balanced supply and demand. This talent shortage extends to managerial roles, where assistant managers and senior supervisors often need to fill the gap,” says Talaulicar.
According to industry experts, the talent shortage is particularly evident in specific roles and positions. Good chefs and, food and beverage managers are in high demand but are challenging to find. Front office and housekeeping roles are also struggling to attract qualified individuals. Recognizing the need to address this issue, HRAWI is actively seeking experienced chefs to join their team and contribute to the education and training of aspiring hospitality professionals. HRAWI will also publish a white paper to identify and assess the several aspects of education in hospitality today, and offer solutions to better the quality and effectiveness of curriculums. The Association also hopes the uptick in revenues post-pandemic to help in this endeavour.
“We need fresh perspectives, ideas and skill-sets to take the industry to the next level. We must focus on developing and nurturing talent, providing them with the right tools and training to excel in their roles. The hospitality industry is one of the most dynamic and exciting sectors to work in and we need to convey this message to the younger generation. The special task force of academic think tanks will try and bridge the shortfall in talent, manpower and declining enrolment of students in hospitality courses. We believe that by focusing on attracting, nurturing and retaining talent, the hospitality industry can overcome its current challenges and flourish in the years to come,” concludes Shetty.
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