Skills Dashboard


Hospitality and Tourism

Skills Impact on Productivity

Report Segment: Skills and Productivity

The Best Practice Forum research into international best practice found that the top 25% of companies need 3 times less overhead than the bottom 25%. Moreover, they need 3 times fewer indirect staff and half as many managers than the least productive tourism companies. Only 7% of productivity gains come from increased skills. 93% arise from improved working practices.

So what does this tell us about skills in the sector? Why bother, one might ask, if staff training makes such a small impact on productivity? But business development shouldn’t be a choice between skills or productivity – both need to be addressed. Upskilling should always lead to improved productivity, and conversely improved working practices should be based on, and lead towards skills improvements. This is surely the key: making sure skills are relevant to business growth and equally ensuring that business improvement initiatives lead to individual upskilling.

Unlike the manufacturing sector, service industries, especially tourism, are often defined by the need to produce “experiences” (e.g. eating, drinking & entertainment) at the very time they are consumed. So, in the sense there is no “stock” in the tourism sector – what is produced (an experience for the tourist) is immediately consumed. This has implications for staff training which can sometimes be overlooked. Customer service training is not an “added extra” in tourism, not something to be bolted on to the real tourism business training. Customer service is the tourism business, precisely because the production and consumption process happen simultaneously. So customer service is the engine room of tourism – without it, there would be no sector, just a collection of facilities.

Poor perceptions of the industry persist. However in the last decade huge strides have been made towards reinvigorating the sector – celebrity chefs have shown a mass audience that there is a dynamic side to the sector – where quality and drive and ambition can combine to create very exciting career prospects. The front of house has also raised its profile – with more talk of sommeliers work, the role of the Maitre ‘d and television challenges to find the best restaurant service.