Jerson Fernandes, Executive Chef of Novotel Mumbai Juhu Beach Hotel, is at his wit’s end and it’s not because of the challenge of managing six food outlets or keeping food costs below 28% of revenue. It’s the dry flow of young hospitality graduates joining the kitchen staff that bothers him.
He also learns to manage the current harvest with kid gloves. Two weeks after her arrival, her recent hire, a young prep manager, threw in the towel and complained to the human resources manager. “He was not comfortable with the language used in the kitchens. However, in high pressure environments, where temperatures are always high, literally and figuratively, you cannot always be courteous. chefs went through that learning curve,” says Fernandes, adding that fewer recruits today are comfortable in such an environment, especially when they have options outside of the hospitality industry.
Additionally, it has limited options for hiring these entry-level workers. Previously, the hotel recruited them from hotel institutes such as Institute of Hotel Management, Rizvi College of Hospitality, ITM Institute of Hotel Management, etc., but now it depends on suppliers who send workers for the day without any guarantee that they would return to work. the next day.
Today, this endemic situation is found throughout the hotel sector. This is even more serious as the total labor requirement of the industry stands at over 18 lakh, with over 21% of jobs posted for entry-level positions, according to a study released by the National Skill Development Corporation of India.
Rajan Bahadur, CEO of the Tourism and Hospitality Skill Council, notes that entry-level positions are primarily for food delivery staff, cleaners, waiters, cooks, kitchen helpers, kitchen stewards, staff front desk, receptionists and pantry associates. This is in addition to the requirement of more than 1 lakh people in the tourism sector, including tour guides, travel agents, travel consultants and tourist drivers. “Current attrition trends add another 25-30% to that,” he says.
Disappointment and dread
So why are recent hospitality graduates resisting entering the hospitality industry?
Vikram Singh Chauhan, founder of Nile Hospitality, thinks it has a lot to do with the gap between perception and reality. Hotels are associated with sophistication, ease and friendliness, but the on-the-ground experience can feel drastically different for hospitality graduates, especially in the aftermath of the pandemic. “Faced with issues such as longer working hours, ever-changing customer expectations and demands, and a lack of pay equity in the market, they are wary of bodybuilding in this space. industries where soft interpersonal skills are in demand, such as IT, retail, real estate, logistics and the gig economy, attract them,” Singh believes.
Young professionals have also seen many of their peers put their health at risk and be among the country’s frontline warriors in the battle against Covid-19 in 2020 and 2021. This fear of losing their lives, coupled with layoffs , could have shaken their confidence. in the industry’s unbeatable reputation as a job creator.
Today, students also assess whether their professional roles after graduation are commensurate with the time and money they have invested in the hospitality course. And these are not small investments. The Institute of Hotel Management Diploma in Food Production and Certificate courses in Cooking and Baking cost around Rs 4,75,000, while the Bachelor of Science in Hospitality Studies at ITM Institute of Hotel Management costs around Rs 6, 62,000.
Bahadur says that after investing heavily in their education, the majority of graduates aspire to start their careers at a supervisory or managerial level. Only 10% of top students are offered management trainees, a position that trains, qualifies and prepares a graduate to become a supervisor or manager through a dedicated internal program.
Additionally, the temperament of millennials and GenZers is distinct from that of their predecessors. For these motivated generations, experiences, personal growth and learning are just as critical as position, compensation and prospects.
Abdul Nasir Shaikh, CEO of the Lexicon Group of Institutes, points to another reason students are jumping ship: the huge gap between academia and industry. “Students who pass out from hotel institutes are unaware of the industry except for the little exposure during their industrial internships. This affects their performance and prevents them from coping with work,” he says. Trained in soft skills and the basics of customer interaction and product knowledge, hospitality graduates therefore prefer to move into profiles such as retail, aviation and real estate, as these sectors offer attractive salaries along with various other benefits, he adds.
Then there is also the valid aspect of ambitions abroad. “Many hospitality professionals are looking for job opportunities overseas, especially in the Middle East, which has a high demand for skilled professionals and where salary levels and quality of life are much better,” says Dilip Puri, Founder and CEO of Indian School of Hospitality. With the FIFA World Cup in Qatar in sight, young professionals are heading to the Middle Eastern nation as job opportunities abound.
feel the heat
With international travel resuming and continued interest from domestic tourists, the hospitality industry is finally getting the much-needed boost after two years of sporadic operations. The current labor shortage has resulted in stunted growth for the sector which desperately needs a resumption of business.
Additionally, hotel chains are expanding to Tier II and Tier III cities where travel has seen a huge increase. Traditional hiring models and roles have changed as people are expected to multi-task and manage the growing digitalization of the business.
“Even those looking to work in the hospitality industry are looking for careers in functional disciplines such as sales and marketing, revenue management and HR, and don’t want to work in operations. because of a stereotypical, albeit correct, notion that these jobs require long hours of work and are not paid as well as other disciplines,” says Puri. change this perception and increase the attractiveness index of hotel operations, adds the hotelier-turned-educator.
Currently, the hospitality industry faces a gap of more than 60% between labor demand and supply. While the sector faced a shortage of skilled labor in catering and housekeeping services in the pre-pandemic period, this shortage worsened as many skilled employees were made redundant during Covid-19 . These employees, who have returned to their hometowns, entered other verticals, or even started their own businesses, do not want to return to the industry.
Citing an estimate from an internal study conducted by the Federation of Hotel and Restaurant Associations of India, Mehul Sharma, founder of Signum Hotels, sadly says that the pressure comes from the fact that if the total number of workforce Trained work needed for the sector would be nearly 60,000, 40,000 will be needed for the department of approved tourism hotels alone.
Bridging the gap
To address this massive HR challenge, hotels are now taking a step back to review the perception of the industry as one with inhumane hours and low wages. There is a growing focus on employee well-being, health and safety as they introduce revamped benefits strategies, provide more flexibility and even overhaul their corporate culture to make it more friendly. Signum’s Sharma even recommends adopting strategies such as mid-term salary reviews and extraordinary salary increases to retain effective employees.
In terms of working hours, Ravi Pachamuthu, President of SRM Group, points out that the sector is moving towards nine-hour service, two days off, better wages and progressive designations, saying these policies would help the company to increase its workforce, which currently has 400 people on its payroll.
How hotels treat and care for students during their industrial training makes all the difference. Shaikh beats for the weekly engagement of the Executive Committee, senior management and one-on-one with the General Manager at regular intervals of the training program. “Through this link, engagement will be high and therefore uptake in the industry,” he says.
The hotels are also in the hiring period. Lemon Tree Hotels, which laid off several employees last year, plans to hire about 1,500 people when it opens 20 hotels. Royal Orchid and Regenta Hotels also plan to hire 1,000 people as they expand into new markets and cities adding 100 hotels to their portfolio in 2022. , in our group, has been driven by recovery,” says Chander Baljee, the CMD of the group.
According to the Naukri JobSpeak Index, hiring in the hospitality sector, including hotels, restaurants and airlines, increased by 58% in November 2021 compared to the previous year. Hotel chains that expand into Tier II and Tier III cities also open up opportunities. KB Kachru, Vice Chairman of the Hotel Association of India and Chairman Emeritus and Senior Advisor, South Asia, Radisson Hotel Group, says this expansion has increased the need for front desk and housekeeping staff in addition to hotel developers. software and applications, process automation specialists, and data analysts. “Apart from metros, cities like Jaipur, Vadodara, Kochi and Hyderabad have maintained positive hiring momentum, which is expected to grow in the coming months,” he said.
AK Singh, director of the FHRAI Institute of Hospitality Management, talks about the service-oriented nature of business and how hospitality professionals in the organized sector need extensive training that can range from six months to three years. “The high demand in the unorganized sector is often met by untrained but experienced personnel. However, we still need to train people in the unorganized sector under the Hunar se Rozgar skills development program for skills, retraining or upgrading,” he says, suggesting one way to bridge the gap.