Collaborative skills action plan to be delivered by HATS Network as continued funding support confirmed

State of the Workforce Survey launches to investigate skills gaps and workforce issues

The HATS Network has received confirmed funding support from Invest Northern Ireland, Tourism Northern Ireland and the Northern Ireland Hotels Federation to deliver on an 18-month skills action plan for the hospitality and tourism industry to tackle attraction and retention challenges. In the first phase of the plan, the network is launching a State of the Workforce Survey to identify emerging skills and workforce challenges.

Since 2019 the Hospitality and Tourism Skills (HATS) Network has been successful in bringing together a strategic partnership of employers and industry associations with key delivery partners from government and education to drive a collective focus on addressing talent attraction and retention issues in the sector. 

With the impact of the pandemic having adversely impacted the sector and magnified many of the skills challenges already faced resulting in a staffing crisis, this has intensified the need for skills collaboration. The funding extended to the HATS Network will support the sector to build on the successful partnership approach to the industry’s workforce needs.

Ciaran O’Neill, Chair of HATS Network and Managing Director of Bishops Gate Hotel comments:

“Over the last three years, the collaborative approach of the HATS Network has united industry employers, government and education providers to tackle the skills challenges and to grow a skilled and professional workforce. We’re delighted to receive funding support from InvestNI, Tourism NI and the Northern Ireland Hotels Federation to continue working in partnership to help overcome attraction and retention challenges facing the sector.

“We’re kicking off the second phase of the HATS Network skills action plan with the State of the Workforce Survey 2023 to provide a comprehensive picture of the new and emerging skills and workforce challenges facing the industry. Given the current recruitment and retention challenges that the sector is facing, the intelligence to better understand the complex skills issues that leaders need to address is more important than ever.”

Overseen by a group of employers, the HATS Network will continue its work across three main objectives: 

  • Attract: Improve the awareness and attractiveness of the hospitality & tourism sector & the range of career opportunities

  • Retain: Raise employer awareness of available skills support, promote good working practices and increase retention of people working in the industry

  • Engage: Support collaborative delivery of skills and careers strategies and activities across key stakeholders aligned to employer demand

Linda Jamison, Invest NI’s Collaborative Growth Manager said:

“We are pleased to support a second phase of the HATS Network through our Collaborative Growth Programme. The HATS Network is a great example of effective collaboration in action. Building on the momentum and traction achieved by the HATS Network over the past three years, the skills action plan will help the tourism and hospitality sector to access the skills required to help maximise growth potential.”

David Roberts, Director of Strategic Development at Tourism Northern Ireland adds:

“As the industry continues in recovery mode, collaboration is critical and investing in people has never been more imperative. It’s vital that the activity through the HATS Network is supported to address critical issues around attractiveness of the sector as a career option, talent retention and to raise skills levels and professionalism. We’re delighted to fund the HATS Network to support a shared vision to invest in skills and professional development and foster an industry reputation as a place that people of all ages aspire to work in.”

The State of the Workforce Survey 2023 is open to all employers in Northern Irelands’ hospitality and tourism sectors. Responses will form part of an evidence base to inform and further shape the HATS programme of work and to help employers across the sector to better address their workforce needs.

Take the State of the Workforce Survey 2023.

To find out more, get in touch. We’d love to hear from you.

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