Press release

Government boost to help low paid workers progress in their careers

Seven new projects have been launched today by the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES), aiming to boost the careers of low paid workers in retail and hospitality sectors.

UKCES investment to aid low pay workers in retail and hospitality

Today we launch seven new projects to boost the careers of low paid workers in the retail and hospitality sectors. Through mentoring, specific skills training and redesigning jobs these projects will increase business and staff productivity and ultimately raise pay for workers on low wages.

The UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES) and the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) are joining forces with Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen Cornwall and other large employers like Pets at Home and Rocco Forte hotels, to look at the most effective ways of supporting people moving up the career ladder.

The retail and hospitality industries employ a total of 5.7 million people in the UK - that’s one in five of all jobs - but employers in these industries struggle with high staff turnover, skills gaps and low productivity.

Sean Taggart, UKCES Commissioner and co-owner and Chief Executive of Albatross Travel said:

Often despite the best efforts of employers in the sector, low pay and high staff turnover are too frequently the hall marks of the retail and hospitality industries. However, these employer-led projects are demonstrating that there is another way that we can break this cycle, to the benefit of both employers and employees. If we can think more creatively about how we design jobs, how we motivate and up-skill staff, and how we use technology to engage with the hardest to reach, we can begin to increase the productivity of our workforces, grow our businesses and pay people more as a result.

Employment Minister Priti Patel said:

Our long-term economic plan is creating a better, more prosperous future for Britain, with employment at an all-time high and more women in work than ever before. Through our welfare reforms we want to go even further to help people turn their lives around, by looking at how those earning close to the minimum wage can progress their careers.

We are simplifying the welfare system through Universal Credit to make work pay and ensure that people can keep more of their hard earned money as they stay and progress into work. These joint projects will further give workers a boost, and by working with employers we can we help them retain staff and keep their talent.

The seven projects are jointly funded by UKCES and DWP through the UK Futures Programme – an investment fund that aims to tackle major labour market challenges through testing, trialling and demonstrating new ways of working. The projects announced today are all led by employers and combine over £1 million public investment alongside private investment, including:

  • Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen Cornwall.

Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen Cornwall will work with Watergate Bay Hotel, St Austell Brewery, Cornwall College and Visit Cornwall to help small employers in the region improve business productivity by investing in training and supporting career progression. Building on high quality working practices that encourage staff to work and develop across different roles and skillsets to improve business performance, the project will develop a toolkit that will enable other small businesses to take similar approaches.

Matthew Thomson from Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen Cornwall said:

We are thrilled to have been invited to work with UKCES. The hospitality industry is central to our regional economy and we need thriving, professional hospitality businesses to deliver sustainable and inclusive growth in Cornwall and beyond. Companies flourish when the people who make them are well rewarded and can shape their careers. Our partnership of progressive hospitality businesses is keen to make a difference across the south west and we would love to hear from anyone with the same ambition.

  • Living Wage Foundation

The Living Wage Foundation is working in partnership with leading retailers including Hobbs and EE to develop a ‘Good Jobs’ toolkit. The project will draw on the work of a Professor Zeynep Ton at MIT and UK research which makes connections between operational practices, employee engagement, and company performance. The toolkit will be designed to offer practical support and advice to a wider range of retailers.

  • National Coastal Tourism Academy (NCTA)

This project aims to revolutionise the way the tourism sector thinks about its employees and aims to encourage staff retention, greater motivation and faster career progression. The domestic tourism and hospitality sector is often perceived as lacking real career opportunities. This project intends to tackle this issue, beginning with small businesses across Bournemouth. The project will test the ‘service-profit’ chain principle that says that high quality customer service that arises from better workplace practices leads to improved business performance and higher pay. A designated project manager will work with hotels across the area to improve the way in which new staff are inducted, trained and managed. If successful, this model has the potential to be rolled out nationally.

Samantha Richardson, director of the NCTA, said:

The NCTA is thrilled to be part of the new UK Futures Programme. Lack of skilled hospitality staff is a problem throughout the industry. This project tackles the issues of high staff turnover and low wages head-on working with SMEs in coastal resorts.

By working closely with a number of Bournemouth hotels, supporting them to deliver engagement programmes, analysing their induction processes and training, we aim to monitor the trajectory of staff on the minimum wage to encourage career growth and staff retention.

Motivated staff with solid support are more likely to stay longer, be more inspired and feel more passionately about their job, which in turn leads to greater repeat business. Understanding how to develop careers even in a seasonal environment will have an impact on the industry nationwide.

If we can accelerate the careers of staff at entry level successfully, this project has the potential to help plug the widening gap in skills shortages.

  • People 1st

Working with major hospitality firms Hilton Worldwide, Accor, Mitchells and Butlers and Whitbread, this project will develop and test different models to progress staff members. For example, analysis tools, behavioural and career coaching and multi-skilling of roles are just some of the models being used to assess and develop the aptitude and skills of the workforce to identify where people, especially apprentices, have what it takes to step up to the next level.

  • Realm

Realm manages the London Designer Outlet shopping centre in the shadow of Wembley Stadium. A transient and inexperienced workforce has the potential to affect the performance of all retailers as well as the centre as a whole. This project will set up an onsite skills academy that retailers can access. Employees will be offered individual training plans and mentoring that enhance their understanding of the retail sector. In parallel, several high profile retailers operating at the centre will work together to define how talented people can progress in the sector and forge a career in retail.

  • Rocco Forte Hotels

Rocco Forte Hotels is developing a ground-breaking new app accessible by smartphone that brings hospitality training and development into the 21st century. Employees will be able to access via the app a career map showing all the possible routes and training materials needed to progress in their careers. They can also set career goals, access relevant training content and receive job advice from career coaches 24 hours a day. This app will revolutionise HR practices and processes within business and will be available to purchase as a white label product to wider hospitality employers.

  • Timewise Foundation

Working with the UK’s largest pet retailer, Pets at Home, this project will radically redesign jobs with the aim of providing clearer routes and opportunities for promotion for part time and flexible working colleagues, particularly women. One of the key changes will be to offer more family friendly flexible roles at a managerial level for workers to progress into.

Changes to the way benefits are administered through Universal Credit will mean that people on low incomes will be better supported to earn more and increase their hours in work. These projects will provide an opportunity to learn what kind of support for employees and employers will be most effective.

photo credit: 10 February 2012 via photopin (license)

Published 12 June 2015