Hospitality sector ‘hit by negative perception’

Many young people are losing out on careers in the hospitality industry because they have a negative perception of the sector, a well-known Cork hotelier said yesterday.

Michael Magner, who employs around 80 people in the Vienna Woods Hotel, said schools are not doing enough to make people aware of opportunities in the industry and claimed there is a training deficit for those who are interested.

In some instances, about 75% of applicants for jobs were non-Irish and many of them were ‘’really good’’, but some Irish people were emigrating because they didn’t see hospitality as a viable option, he said.

Mr Magner, who began his career collecting glasses in a hotel at the age of 14, said people who started as waiters or bartenders could rise up the ranks if they were passionate about their work and wanted to make good careers for themselves.

‘’Some people working part-time in the industry are students who want to be accountants or go into other professions, but I would prefer to hire part-time people with aspirations to work long-term in our industry,’’ he said.

The conference heard there is a shortage of chefs and that there are plans to create 3,000 entry-level jobs in the sector each year.

Meanwhile, there was a strong attack on attempts to reintroduce the Joint Labour Committee (JLC) wage payment system, described as “little more than pandering to trade unions at the expense of job creation” in the hotels sector.

The president of the Irish Hotels Federation, Michael Vaughan, called for the JLC system to be abolished and accused factions within the Government of blatantly undermining initiatives to stimulate employment in the hotels sector by caving in to short-sighted union interests.

In a survey carried out in advance of the conference, 91% of hoteliers indicated that the increased burden and cost of meeting employment regulations under the JLC system would hinder their ability to take on staff.

The Labour Court is carrying out a review of JLCs.

Mr Vaughan claimed they are out of touch with the realities confronting tourism businesses and undermined job creation in the sector.

“On one hand we have supportive tourism initiatives, such as a reduced Vat rate, whilst on the other hand we have additional costs imposed on tourism businesses in the form of JLCs,” he added.

He said payroll was the largest cost element in the sector, accounting for 40% of turnover.

Some 196,000 people are employed in the tourism industry, including 54,000 in hotels and guesthouses.


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