HATS off to new NI recruitment campaign within hospitality and tourism sector

Major industry recruitment campaign critical part of a strategy to address staffing issues and skills shortages

By Claire Cartmill
Tuesday, 22nd March 2022, 12:00 pm

Employer-led network the Hospitality & Tourism Skills network (HATS) has partnered with Tourism NI to spearhead a multi-channel advertising campaign to combat the local skills shortage crisis and promote the exciting opportunities that the industry has to offer potential job seekers.

Roisin McKee, director of the HATS network believes there’s a need to restore confidence in the sector so that it is recognised as a stable and vaible option for fulfilling careers

She explained: “To help the sector recover, we urgently need to support businesses to fill current vacancies and to raise the profile of positions with good employers and inspire people to consider a career in the industry. There are incredible opportunities for people to join this industry yet there are still people who have misconceptions about the types of jobs available and the required skills. Employers are looking for people with personality and passion”

Events & Promotions manager (Image courtesy of Tourism NI)

The industry recruitment campaign aligns employers’ needs, a portal for job applicants, as well as a best practice charter.

Running until the end of March 2022, the campaign features a series of quirky eye-catching job descriptions across billboards, outdoor advertising and social media to attract attention and highlight the dynamic and fast-paced roles available, helping to attract new recruits.

Roisin continued: “We have an ambition to be able to attract, develop and retain the future talent that the industry needs. We want to champion people at the heart of the industry and change the narrative - to be seen as an exciting industry offering quality jobs. And at the same time, focus on retaining the people that are already in the industry.”

Whilst recruitment challenges are not new to the sector, the combination of skills shortages pre-Covid with the pandemic lockdowns and the impact of Brexit have exacerbated the problem.

Roisin McKee, director of the HATS network

“You’ve had that start-stop nature of lockdown and the uncertainty and that forced people to give up on the sector,” said Roisin.

“People’s priorities have changed and we’ve also seen a lot of overseas workers that the sector is reliant on to help fill vacancies have returned home. The impact has limited their businesses’ ability to be able to operate at full capacity.”

For employers the campaign also provides a chance to reach out.

“The campaign on its own isn’t enough. Businesses have a key role to play in showcasing their vacancies whether they’re part time, full time, entry level or management,” Roisin added.

Barista (Image courtesy of Tourism NI)

“And they can do that for free via Careerscope, the campaign job portal run by Springboard. The opportunities will then be promoted to the job seekers that are being targeted by the campaign. We encourage businesses where possible to promote the flexibility and training offered in the roles to encourage more applications.

“Many employers were already making great strides to actually address working practices, the culture, terms and conditions, pay and so on. There are many things that employers are doing.

“They are looking at addressing pay, improving work/life balance, offering perks and incentives, whether that be discounts on products and experiences or health insurance benefits. They recognise that they want to recognise and reward staff and set out progression and development opportunities too.”

HATS network was founded in december 2019 by a group of core leading employers from the hospitality and tourism sector and brings together a diverse mix of employers.

Roisin added: “From the HATS network perspective, we see the industry recruitment campaign as being a catalyst to create a better awareness of our industry, helping to bring people in.

“We want to be able to progress people on a career pathway. Whether that’s moving vertically or horizontally in the industry to progress their careers.”

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