“We were delighted to welcome friends and colleagues from across the sector to Umbrella Training’s third annual conference.

It was hosted at the Royal Air Force Club in London on 14 May 2019 and the agenda focused on what the hospitality industry can do to help combat the skills and labour shortage that is currently facing the UK.

Whilst there are many events dedicated to this subject, we wanted to take a different approach and asked speakers and the discussion panels to looked closely at solution-based ideas that employers can turn to in order to help the industry find its future talent.

We wanted to share some of these with you. Do let us know if you’d like to discuss any of the below.






Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UKHospitality, outlined the significant role that hospitality plays within the UK economy and employment market.

As the third largest employer by sector, she said, the hospitality industry is the beating heart of the UK. It employs around six million people, both directly and indirectly, accounts for nearly a 10th of all jobs (9%), and is responsible for the creation of one in eight new jobs.

Hospitality’s economic contribution comes to around £130bn, which is more than automotive, pharma and aeronautics combined at £126bn.

And the sector shows no signs of slowing either, with employment and economic contribution forecast to grow by up to 10% by 2020 and by up to 23% by 2022 respectively.

With these vital statistics, Nicholls highlighted the compelling argument for the organisation’s priorities in today’s political climate, which are to:

  • Secure a Brexit deal that delivers for future workforce and supply needs.
  • Champion the high street through and root and branch reform of rates to make it fit for a digital economy so everyone pays their fair share.
  • Boost productivity by doubling the NIC threshold to take the lowest paid out of tax, support job creation and investment in people.
  • Foster responsible business practice through partnership and self-regulation rather than tax and regulation.
  • Endorse its innovative, inspirational sector deal to develop homegrown skills and reduce unnecessary costs.




Jane Sunley, author and founder of people consultancy Purple Cubed, outlined what the next generation of employees are looking for from they working lives. These included a compelling work culture, two-way communication and consultation between employer and employee, a strong team dynamic, and the chance to work with purpose and make a meaningful contribution to an organisation’s overall success.

The next generations of employees are also seeking the opportunity for meaningful career professional development and career progression, a work life balance alongside control over their own destiny, and the respect and trust of their employers to ensure their own voices are heard.

Sunley urged hospitality businesses to take at least the three following actions in order to reap the benefits of next gen staff members:

  • Acknowledge the pace of change and rather than fight it, embrace it.
  • Talk to your people. They are a valuable resource so listen to what they have to say and, crucially, act upon it.
  • Invest in digitising and socialising your HR function. Not only is it needed, it is expected.








Jo Simovic, director of excellence at Umbrella Training, asked an expert panel for their top tips combating the skills gap.

We spoke to Kevin Feaviour, The Springboard Charity; Jane Knight, Successful Mums; Asi Panditharatna, Forward Trust; Prof Jackie Watson, University of Surrey; Peter Ducker, Institute of Hospitality and Kathy Dyball, caterer.com

With recruitment being more challenging, what are your organisations doing to support employers?

  • Introducing new pools of talent. These include: working mums, mum returning to work; formerly homeless jobseekers; ex-offenders; and long term unemployed people.
  • Supporting the integration of alternative talents pools into the workforce.
  • Promoting hospitality to schools early rather than waiting to influence choices when pupils reach the age of 16.

What can employers do to retain existing talent?

  • Focus on the gig economy and flexible working.
  • Offer work-life balance.
  • Give employees daily opportunities to learn new skills.
  • Ensure the work your employees do is meaningful every day.

How can employers attract a wider talent pool?

  • Be open minded and think beyond just the CV.
  • Create recruitment events that gives talent the chance to shine.
  • Be available by being present in places where the talent pool feels more comfortable.
  • Offer flexible working hours.
  • Adapt to the needs of different generations.




Umbrella Employ, the employment service of Umbrella Training, showcased how it is helping employer attract and recruit talent. It highlighted the attraction work, including the organisation of the hospitality zone at Skills London, the showcase event of the Hospitality Apprenticeship Bus and its activity with schools in London and the South East.

More information can be found here https://www.umbrellatraining.co.uk/vacancies/





Umbrella Training launched new programmes it is planning to run with employers, including a Future Butler Apprenticeship Programme, a future General Managers programme which will be an on-the-job master degree apprenticeship, and the launch of the Learning & Development Apprenticeship standards.




We also carried out a survey, asking attendees their view on how far the government is supporting apprenticeships. A staggering 97% said that the Government needs to do more.

This was featured in news piece in the press.


In a second poll, 35% of the attendees said that apprenticeships in their business supported succession planning with 23% saying it increased staff knowledge and 44% say that the most important aspect of a provider is the quality of training.



Download a PDF of the report here

Employer Conference – summary 2019 v2

With thanks to our sponsors of the conference:

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