Tuesday 11 December 2018

Surge in hotel job vacancies sparks fear of skills shortages

Minister Heather Humphreys. Photo: Kyran O'Brien
Minister Heather Humphreys. Photo: Kyran O'Brien

Colm Kelpie

Job vacancies in the hotel sector have surged in the five-year period up to 2017, a recruitment website has claimed.

Analysis by jobs.ie found that there has been an increase in jobs vacancies in a number of key hotel roles - specifically hotel chefs, bartenders, waiters, receptionists, porters, mixologists and concierges.

Every role has experienced growth in the last five years, particularly since 2016.

Jobs vacancies for hotel chefs more than doubled in the period 2013-17.

Although vacancies were down by 9pc in 2017 compared to 2016, the number remains high.

Christopher Paye, general manager of Jobs.ie, said a diversified tourism sector and Ireland's continued strong economic health have helped to fuel growth.

"Despite the challenges of the last two years, Ireland's hotel sector has demonstrated remarkable resilience," Mr Paye said.

"2016, the year of the Brexit vote, was a significant turning point, insofar as we saw hotel jobs vacancies actually increase rather than diminish.

"It seems counterintuitive. The Irish tourism sector has for decades been disproportionately reliant on the UK for revenue. Thankfully, in the last number of years, we've begun to diversify our target markets to attract more European, American and Asian tourists."

Jobs.ie said the hospitality sector is worth €7.2bn to the Irish economy and supports an estimated 235,000 jobs.

However, Mr Paye said there is a mounting risk that demand for workers will outstrip supply, and this is already proving the case for chefs.

"With skills shortages left unaddressed, the growth of Ireland's tourism industry will be short-lived. Hotels will need to think outside the box to attract talented workers from overseas and encourage more Irish professionals to consider a career in hospitality," he added.

It comes just weeks after the Government announced that it was loosening the employment permits regime to allow in more qualified chefs to help plug the shortage.

Following a review of the Highly Skilled and Ineligible lists of Employment earlier this year, which included a public consultation, Business, Enterprise and Innovation Minister Heather Humphreys announced the removal of certain chef grades from the ineligible occupation list.

This, the minister said, would ensure that there is a mechanism to address the shortage of qualified chefs in the short term.

The minister also said that the Government had applied a quota to ensure that in the longer term the demand for chefs is met from a steady supply in the Irish labour market.

The industry welcomed the move to loosen the regime.

Irish Independent

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