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Why now is a great time to work in hospitality: Kate Nicholls, OBE, CEO UKHospitality

In advance of the upcoming International Women in Travel and Tourism Forum in London on June 30, 2022, we chatted with panelist Kate Nicholls, OBE, and CEO of UKHospitality, the organization which represents over 730 companies operating around 85,000 venues in a sector that employed 3.2 million people in the UK prior to COVID.

Naturally, Kate is excited about the conference, but she is even more enthusiastic about the future of hospitality as a sector no. With the current labor shortage and some 188,000 jobs open in the industry in the UK, she thinks there has never been a better time for anyone to enter hospitality. So, let’s get to it!

Kate Nicholls UK Hospitality

Thanks for taking the time to speak, let’s start with why do you think this is a great moment for women in hospitality?

It’s a great moment for anyone to get into hospitality, we currently have 188,000 job vacancies and a labor shortage of ten percent. Particularly for women, more and more jobs can offer flexible scheduling to allow for school runs, and there are some companies starting to offer childcare support. Hospitality also has one of the lowest wage gaps of any sector, so there are tremendous opportunities for women.

Why are you excited to be a part of the panel discussion on women in leadership on June 30 at the Women in Travel and Tourism Forum?

Looking forward to coming together in person to meet people, and to share our experiences of the last two years. It is so good to be able to support each other. The women’s conference is one I have always enjoyed because there is so much peer-to-peer support that goes on throughout the day. Having not been able to do that over the last two years, it is important to gather now, especially when we want to encourage women back in the industry.

Speaking of support, UK Hospitality has two major efforts to help the industry. Tell me more about Hospitality Rising and Hoteliers Charter.

When we reopened over the summer, suddenly there were lots of gaps and vacancies. Twenty percent of the people on furlough didn’t return to previous employers. An intense war for talent ensued as we rapidly realized it was a battle for bodies with other sectors with vacancies across the whole supply chain. At the moment we have 1.3 million job vacancies in the UK economy and a 3.7 percent unemployment rate. Basically, there are more jobs available than people to fill them.

At the moment we have 1.3 million job vacancies in the UK economy and a 3.7 percent unemployment rate. Basically, there are more jobs available than people to fill them.

Hospitality Rising is a pan-industry response to this unprecedented set of challenges, it is the first industry-wide national advertising campaign designed to recruit people into the sector. To present the sector as a great, fun place to work, the ultimate meritocracy where you can learn transferable skills, and have camaraderie with people you work with. We are aiming to go live with that in the summer to hit young people as they finish college and university. We are hoping to move the needle from one in five applicants to three in five applicants considering hospitality.

While Hospitality Rising looks at recruiting people at the entry-level, those who never thought about hospitality as an industry to work in, Hoteliers Charter’s mission is to showcase employers who are best in class and to show the industry as a good place to work and that we invest in our people. The mission of the Hoteliers Charter is to bust the myths about long hours, low pay, and little care, as nothing could be further from the truth. We have signed up 500 independent hotels across the UK to Hoteliers Charter we are working hard to promote the program more widely and raise awareness.

Kate Nicholls OBE UK Hospitality


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