Hospitality Business February 2022

Page 8

STATE OF THE NATION

Tackling skills shortages with a new industry plan By Stuart Nash, Minister of Economic and Regional Development, Tourism, Small Business and Forestry.

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he dust has not yet settled on The billions of dollars invested in the peak 2021-2022 summer the wage subsidy, resurgence support season for hospitality and payments and zero-interest business tourism. Yet we already have loans have made a difference. New a good picture of what is next in store programmes are helping businesses for us. adapt faster to digital commerce, As I write this, the largest public to operate online, to better market health campaign in New Zealand their products, and to develop clickhistory is stepping up a gear. By late and-collect or other contactless sales January 2022, more than 93 percent of channels. Targeted support for noneligible Kiwis were fully vaccinated, and wage costs has rolled out to businesses 96 per cent were partially vaccinated. in our most hard-hit towns and Around one million adults have had communities, in Auckland, Waikato and booster shots, and the vaccination roll Northland, on top of previous support to out for 5 to 11 year olds was underway five major South Island tourist regions. in time for the new school year. I expect the coming year will We know from our experience in surprise on the upside with continued 2020, and again in 2021, that we must economic resilience in the face of actively work to keep each other safe the global economic shock caused during the global pandemic. When by COVID. The headwinds facing people feel safe, our communities keep businesses, workers and households functioning and economic indicators are the same as those facing hospitality like household and consumer and tourism sectors around the world. spending show an upward tick. Skills shortages and global supply Business activity rebounds, and more chain disruptions are two of the people are in work. biggest challenges to the economic This was demonstrated most recovery. We are well placed to meet vividly with the GDP figures in late these challenges. 2021. The economy grew by almost Our COVID vaccination five per cent in the year. Since campaign is part of the shortthe start of the pandemic, we term strategy. It has proven “I expect to receive have worked with businesses that the best economic a first draft of the and workers to cushion the response is a strong health plan by the middle of impacts on livelihoods. response. But hospitality this year, after which the and tourism also need ITP leadership group will longer-term thinking to deal consult widely as the with ingrained issues that sector comes together.” have impeded the sector in the past, even before COVID. Skills shortages and career progression are the first priorities of the new Industry Transformation Plan (ITP) we are drawing up for tourism and hospitality. I announced plans to begin work on the ITP LEADERS FORUM in early 2021 and want to thank those people from the hospitality and tourism sectors who have come on board as part of the leadership group. The Industry Transformation Plan will be ground-breaking because the sector’s recovery strategy will 8 FEBRUARY 2022 - HOSPITALITY BUSINESS

be based on a partnership between government, industry, workers’ reps and Māori businesses and worker training agencies. It will focus on the systemic challenges that have long affected the ability of tourism and hospitality businesses to find and retain staff with the skills and experience they need. Migration is only one part of the picture for the hospitality and tourism workforce. Education, training, pay and conditions have always been major considerations and that will be the same in 2022. There is a huge opportunity for all of us to support and develop different pathways for people keen on a career in the industry. This includes formal education and training or direct paths through paid work in hospo. It covers experience in allied sectors like food and beverage production in our primary industries, and customer service or public-facing roles. And those workers with cultural knowledge of manaakitanga and kaitiakitanga are in demand as hosts and advisors for visitor attractions. With increasing competition for workers across the economy, the hospitality and tourism sector will need to grapple with how it remains competitive and can attract and retain the talent it needs New Zealand has become well known throughout the world as a result of putting people first in response to COVID19. Now, we can build an industry that is also internationally known for our manaakitanga towards visitors and to the very people that work in the industry. I do not underestimate the problem of the skills shortage. Making real change will be challenging for both businesses and government. But the disruption of the global pandemic presents an opportunity to step back and work collaboratively. I expect to receive a first draft of the plan by the middle of this year, after which the ITP leadership group will consult widely as the sector comes together to address these challenges. n


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