Training & Skills

People matters: Winning the war for talent

By Mike Berry

- Last updated on GMT

The sector has a turnover problem which must be tackled
The sector has a turnover problem which must be tackled

Related tags Employment

The Publican’s Morning Advertiser’s new Pub Skills Summit focuses on the great work the sector is currently doing with training and people development. Mike Berry looks at some of the themes the event will cover.

The licensed hospitality sector provides the first taste of work for many young people. According to the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers, the sector accounts for one in six of all new jobs among 18 to 24-year-olds. Last year alone, pubs and bars generated 37,000 new jobs — 7% of all net new jobs in the UK — with more than eight in 10 taken by 18 to 24-year-olds.

Those working within and close to the sector know the great opportunities that a career in pubs can provide; it is packed full of individuals who started collecting glasses, washing pots, or in another junior role, and worked their way up to running their own site or pub chain.


Research in 2014 by the Perceptions Group — a coalition of senior figures from across the sector — found that most pub managers, aged under 30, are running businesses with a turnover exceeding £1m​, with fewer than three years’ training to gain the position. Of the 200 people surveyed, 81% began their careers as glass collectors or bar staff before being promoted to managerial positions.

If you speak to many employers in the sector, they will say recruiting - and retaining - quality staff across their operations is their number one challenge.

Talent war

According to sector skills body People 1st, there are currently about 2.5 million people employed in the hospitality and tourism sectors, with pubs, bar and nightclubs accounting for about 350,000 people.

Growth across these sectors is projected to continue, with almost one million staff required by 2022. However, of these, about 870,000 are needed to replace existing employees.

Alongside this, the war for talent is set to become fiercer as the economy improves, youth unemployment reduces and young workers become more highly sought after to plug skills gaps in other sectors.

In a report last year​, People 1st said that the whole hospitality industry was suffering from low productivity caused by high levels of staff turnover. “It is clear that parts of our industry are trapped in a revolving door of high turnover, increased skills gaps, and reliance on resorting to further transitional, non-permanent staff, to plug those gaps,” the report stated.

Join us at the Pub Skills Summit

Attend the new Pub Skills Summit

A one-day event that will showcase some of the outstanding work many pub companies are undertaking when it comes to recruitment and people development, and provide insight and strategies into tackling future skills challenges.

Where?​ Sheraton Park Lane, London
When?​ Tuesday 5 July
Who’s it for?​ The event is aimed at operators of all levels, from independent to multi-site retailers, and HR, training and learning and development teams within leased and tenanted and managed pubcos.
Details?​ Visit​ or call Jo Horton on 01293 610403.

It’s within this context that the PMA​ has launched its new Pub Skills Summit. Employers, large and small, have worked hard in recent years to attract new recruits to the pub sector, provide them with the right skills and help develop them into engaged and productive workers.

Considerable attention has been given to the recruitment challenges in the sector — and work continues to disprove the myth that pub jobs are no more than part-time, pocket-money options. But evidence suggests that paying more attention to staff retention and developing career pathways will help tackle the widespread recruitment problems and boost productivity.

The summit will hear from some of the sector’s top employers, recognised for their award-winning approaches:

■ Natasha Waterfield from New World Trading Company​, winner of Best Pub Employer (2-50 sites) at the Publican Awards, will discuss the company’s rigorous approach to staff development and its innovative new Tribes app designed to increase employee engagement.
Oakman Inns’​ head of HR Jill Scatchard will explain the ethos behind the pubco’s career pathway programme Oakmanology, which places the individual’s interest and passion at the heart of their learning.
■ Dawn Browne, group development manager at Publican Awards winner Fuller’s​, will present on the company’s focus on becoming an employer of choice and the benefits gained from its emphasis on peer-to-peer learning.

Other speakers include:

Nick Boles MP​, minister of state for skills
David Dasher​, managing director, CPL Online
Barry Flack​, global multi-sector people and talent expert
■ Panel debate featuring senior leaders and PMA​ rising stars

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