Hospitality workforce: Can we meet the demand?

2022 was a year of great recovery and bullish projections for the future of this sector

Representational image: IHM, Pusa

The Indian Tourism and Hospitality industry has historically been a labour-intensive large employer in the Indian landscape. Direct and indirect engagement in the sector provides livelihood to roughly 8.8% of the country’s total workforce. Focusing on the branded and unbranded hotel space with roughly 2m keys, this sector employs over 10 mn people alone. However, the industry was already seeing fissures in the skill gap requirement even pre-pandemic. 

The Covid pandemic was, of course, the great disrupter in the hospitality sector. The Job Plus has conducted a dip-stick survey and has estimated that roughly 25%-30% of the skilled and experienced workforce of the industry have permanently disconnected and have moved to other occupations with no intention or will to return. To put it into perspective for the Branded Hotel organizations, with over 1,50,000 keys across India, employing over 1.4 million people, this translates to a shortfall of 3,50,000 skilled employees required to operate existing assets. 

2022 was a year of great recovery and bullish projections for the future of this sector. New customer segments have emerged; trends like Staycations, Bleasure travel, and domestic luxury demand is adding to the products the sector is catering to. Add to that the revival of business travel and MICE events, and the next 7-8 years for Hospitality players are expected to see significant opportunities for growth and development. However, the talent shortfall faced in the Hospitality industry is one of the significant threats to the recovery post-pandemic. Per the estimations of The Job Plus study, job growth is estimated to be 5.5% CAGR (to account for new openings and attrition from the industry) till 2029- an additional requirement of 100,000- 150,000 skilled workforce year on year in this Branded Hotel segment alone. 

The "talent crunch" in the sector is driven by factors on both sides; on one hand, the shortfall in skilled experienced working professionals, and on the other hand, the uphill battle to attract new talent to the future pipeline. With staggeringly low enrolment rates in Hospitality Management courses, which have traditionally been the funnels feeding into the talent pool, it is time for the sector to look at alternate sources for entry-level workforce. Short-term skill-based training in a modular manner as entry points for specific job roles is a clear emerging trend. The idea behind these programs is to mobilize the local youth, involve the local hotels to invest in their training, use custom short-term training content plans to create functional champions, and develop a pool of industry-ready workforce on demand. Brands like Oberoi, Marriott International, and Mahindra amongst others have adopted this approach with The Plus Initiative- a collaboration between THSC and The Job Plus. 

Along with such initiatives, many organizations are evolving their Human Resource policies to prioritise employee well-being and engagement to address the evolving needs of the newer generations. The industry is currently plagued by age-old perceptions like long working hours, tough work conditions, and no clear career progression- factors that dissuade quality talent from pursuing employment in Hotels. Driving a change in the perceived Employee Value Proposition based on the dynamic nature of jobs, professional learning and growth, revised remuneration scales, and geographic proximity to hometowns- are some of the work attributes that will attract talent in the long run. 

While the Hospitality industry finds its footing again, many changes and innovations in the way manpower has been managed are underway. These next 2-4 years will be crucial to the sector; the responses and agility to adapt to the new generation’s expectations and market demands will determine how successfully the sector will continue to attract quality talent.


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