The impact of COVID-19 on skills for tourism

Posted 22 Jun, 2020

To assess the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the skills needs of the tourism and hospitality industry across Northern Ireland, the Hospitality and Tourism Skills (HATS) network in collaboration with People 1st International surveyed 376 employers across the sector.

NITA had a chat with Roisin McKee, HATS Project Director to gain further insight for the industry. She explained that the research found that in a bid to restore consumer confidence and get their people up and running as they prepare to re-open, employers are taking a skills-led approach to both managing the transition back to work as well as being ready for customers.

“When it comes to the critical issue of staff training in hygiene controls and social distancing measures, almost two thirds (63%) of employers support the creation of a publicly recognised symbol, which can be publicly displayed to reassure customers. And, as highlighted in a recent poll by People 1st International, more than half (54%) of consumers want assurances that staff have been trained in these new measures.”

She continued, “ There is also substantial support for a collaborative approach to support the recovery phase with more than half (53.7%) backing industry-recognised, transferable, virtual training solutions.”

She outlined other findings from the report highlighted that:

  • Well over three-quarters (86.7%) want more social distancing guidance
  • Almost two thirds (62.7%) want more clarity on government policies such as confirmation on opening dates.
  • In the short-term, more than half of employers (58%) expect that major re-structuring and redundancies will require assistance with workforce planning.
  • In the medium to long-term, businesses are looking for help with recruitment and HR support (82.4%), followed by performance management systems (67.9%) and organisational development (62.9%).

“The pandemic is changing the status-quo and will act a catalyst for sweeping changes when it comes to resilience, agility, preparedness, culture change and being competitive. This means that new skills are essential and that business leaders will need to prioritise the recommendations of their HR professionals.

“Regardless of business size, people are the greatest asset and are the key to economic recovery. Employers who have treated their people well in this period and are now training them for the return, will not only recover more quickly but will also be stronger and more agile moving forward.”

To view the full findings visit