Demand for hospitality and tourism talent increases

With international visitor numbers projected to grow even further in the next five years, employers may need to reconsider their recruitment strategy to attract the best hospitality and tourism talent.

The country’s tourism industry directly employs 7.5% of the New Zealand workforce. Data from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment predicts international visitor numbers will reach 4.9 million per annum in 2023 and their annual expenditure will increase by more than 52%, reaching $15.3 billion.

Experts say these growing numbers are creating an increased demand for hospitality and tourism roles, such as tour guides, front office, housekeeping and chefs. The latest data from SEEK Employment Trends shows job ads increased year-on-year across each of these areas.

Changing tastes

David Khadi, Regional Director at recruitment firm Michael Page, says the lines between hospitality and retail are blurring. “With the proliferation of quick-service restaurants in the market, brands are seeking to balance customer service with speed of service,” he says. “The quality of cuisine in the casual market is to such a competitive standard that the higher-end restaurants are finding competition for clientele tighter than ever. Food courts have developed from cheap low-quality eateries to healthy on-trend establishments that can offer a stronger price point option for consumers.”

SEEK job ads for chefs and cooks rose by 7% year-on-year for the three months from May to July, while bar and beverage staff increased by 19%.

Cherie McGill, Executive Director Human Resources at Mantra Group, which employs around 300 people across New Zealand, says chefs are always in high demand. “I feel like there's a new restaurant or café opening every week and, when it comes to talent for chefs, we’re all pulling from the same pot. I don’t see demand declining any time soon.”

Nicola Fernandes, HR Manager at Crowne Plaza Christchurch, which employs 71 people, says recruiting chefs can also be challenging as resumes often lack vital detail. “Chefs tend to list only their position and the name of the business without expanding on their capabilities and the responsibilities of their role.”

Leadership skills in demand

SEEK job ads for front office and guest services roles increased by 24% year-on-year over the three-month period, while housekeeping roles were up by 19%.

Management roles in hospitality and tourism grew by 9% over the same period. Khadi says many employers are looking for candidates with multiple language skills as well as strong experience. “With the increase in tourism revenue from China, a number of clients are seeking Cantonese or Mandarin speaking managers, especially in boutique hotels.”

McGill adds that strong leadership skills are highly sought-after skills when recruiting managers. “In the service delivery industry you have to have your team on board with you,” she says.

Developing the best talent

Crowne Plaza Christchurch is part of the Intercontinental Hotels Group (IHG), which has more than 700 employees over six properties in New Zealand. Fernandes says the gradual re-emergence of large up-scale hotels in Christchurch is creating greater competition for talent.

“This trend is likely to increase with new major hotel brands due to open in 2018,” she says. “However, in these current condition, the recruitment process plays a vital role in the selection for the right candidates. The importance we place on upskilling, as well as IHG’s training opportunities, also plays a key role in the retention of our colleagues across all areas of the hotel.”

IHG provides self-paced learning and development opportunities to employees via online training modules through its Leadership Academy partnership with Harvard Business Publishing. It also offers leadership development training for supervisory and junior managers, which is facilitated by the General Manager and HR Managers. “We also have the IHG Future Leaders program, which is a 24-month accelerated program aimed at developing senior leaders in operations leadership roles, as well as our RISE mentor program for female leaders aspiring to being General Manager,” says Fernandes.

Mantra Group also offers a range of training options for employers and McGill says it is key to the Group’s employee value proposition. “We also support people with their study options and this may be anything from doing an Excel course to an MBA,” she says. “We also have internal development programs, such as out Emerging Leaders and Rising Stars programs, and an individualised program called ‘My Plan’, which helps employees hatch out a career plan.”

As tourism numbers continue to soar across New Zealand, employers may need to work on their recruitment and retention strategies to secure and retain the industry’s best talent. It may also pay to add training and development to your list of attractors.

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SEEK Insights & Resources New Zealand

SEEK is the destination of choice for job-seekers and hirers in New Zealand, acting as the conduit between hirers looking to fill vacant roles and candidates looking for work across many and varied industries. SEEK's mission is to help people live...

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