Hotels plan to train 3,000 long-term jobless


A PLAN to train up to 3,000 long-term unemployed people for jobs in the hospitality sector is being put forward by the Irish Hotels Federation.

Incoming president of the federation Michael Vaughan said the hospitality sector faced a shortage of trained craft and entry-level workers such as breakfast chefs, bar staff, porters and chamber assistants.

After his election at the federation’s annual conference in Kilkenny yesterday, Mr Vaughan called on the Government to set up training schemes – similar to those previously run by Fáilte Ireland – to cater for the industry’s annual intake of bartenders, chefs, porters, waiters and chamber assistants.

The scheme would reintroduce unemployed people to “real work” while improving the skill levels of “unprepared” hospitality staff, he said.

Mr Vaughan said the federation also wanted some of the State’s hotels which close for the winter months to be hired out “at basic rates” to be used as training centres. He had already put the idea to Minister for Tourism Leo Varadkar who attended the conference this week.

Mr Vaughan said Mr Varadkar expressed a willingness to consider the proposal.

Mr Vaughan said the federation would be happy to take part in local skills-needs surveys with employment exchanges to determine the levels of participation.

“It could be set up on a local basis, using the federation’s branch network and it could provide jobs-training for regeneration areas such as Roxboro [in Limerick],” he said.

“In some cases breakfast chefs are staff deployed from other areas for the morning. There is a real opportunity to provide proper training in the preparation of the Irish breakfast”.

Similarly, he said, specialist training could improve the abilities of porters and bar staff, chamber assistants and others. “Very often these people are the first points of contact with the Irish for the visitor,” he said.

Federation members traditionally take on some 3,000 such staff annually, some of them for seasonal work. Part of the proposal is that staff would be given a “skills pass” which would be a certification system to show they had been trained.

He said the European hotels federation Hotrec had recently expressed an interest in a pan-European certification scheme like this.

“There is training and certification at management level but Fáilte Ireland – as a matter of policy – decided to target their resources in other areas. It is not a criticism of Fáilte Ireland; they are involved in policy, but it has left a gap,” he said.

Mr Vaughan, owner of the four-star Vaughan Lodge Hotel in Lahinch, Co Clare, was elected president of the federation for two years yesterday. He said his other priorities would include tackling the lack of available credit for business, creating a positive business environment for the hotel sector and effective promotion of Ireland in its key tourism market in Britain.

He also said he would highlight the position of the west of Ireland in national tourism plans, as well as looking at ways to reduce the high costs associated with doing business in Ireland.

Mr Vaughan succeeds Paul Gallagher, the general manager of Buswells Hotel in Dublin.