Industry Responds To Shallow Entry-Level Labor Pool

NATIONAL REPORT? When U.S. Franchise Systems? President/CEO Mike Leven lamented that ?the concept of self-cleaning bathrooms should be extended to include more maintenance-free guestrooms,? he touched upon the primary concern facing the hospitality industry today: the acute tightness of entry-level employee availability. Hospitality industry sources estimate that for the current 10-year period spanning the years 1996 – 2006, a minimum of two million people will need to be added to the industry?s ranks. That would equate to signing up the equivalent of 17% of 1998?s hospitality-sector workforce each and every year. The dwindling stream of employment candidates has been a cause for hospitality industry discussion? and hand-wringing? for a number of years. And, unfortunately, history shows that the industry?s available labor pool invariably shrinks as national, regional and local economies perk up; in essence, a strong economy weakens the allure of a hospitality career. This on-going paucity of talent shapes up as a major concern not only for the hospitality industry but for the national employment picture as well. Recent findings released through the Chicago-based Hospitality Business Alliance (HBA) draw on U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics numbers showing that total hospitality industry employment in 1998 amounted to 12 million people and job growth through 2006 will require that at least an additional 200,000 employees be added to that total annually. As for the impact of this potential dearth of entry-level employees on the hospitality industry, American Hotel & Motel Association (AH&MA) President Bill Fisher noted: ?The future success of the hospitality industry is, in large part, dependent on the quantity? and quality? of people we can attract to and retain within our employment rolls.? Accordingly, Fisher was ebullient about the recent $1 million grant tendered to the HBA by the U.S. Departments of Labor and Education, earmarked for further involving hospitality industry employers in school-to-work initiatives. Within the hospitality industry itself, the burgeoning employment problem is more perceived as a two-issue conundrum involving initial entry as well as retention. The matter of attracting .potential employees to the industry?s fold makes for the more appropriate starting point and, on that note, there seems to be unanimous agreement that a resolution of the problem is not only mandatory, but hinges on the successful conveyance of awareness as well as appreciation of a career in the hospitality field? particularly to those showing that total hospitality industry employment in 1998 amounted to 12 million people and job growth through 2006 will require that at least an additional 200,000 employees be added to that total annually. As for the impact of this potential dearth of entry-level employees on the hospitality industry, American Hotel & Motel Association (AH&MA) President Bill Fisher noted: ?The future success of the hospitality industry is, in large part, dependent on the quantity? and quality? of people we can attract to and retain within our employment rolls.? Accordingly, Fisher was ebullient about the recent $1 million grant tendered to the HBA by the U.S. Departments of Labor and Education, earmarked for further involving hospitality industry employers in school-to-work initiatives. Within the hospitality industry itself, the burgeoning employment problem is more perceived as a two-issue conundrum involving initial entry as well as retention. The matter of attracting potential employees to the industry?s fold makes for the more appropriate starting point and, on that note, there seems to be unanimous agreement that a resolution of the problem is not only mandatory, but hinges on the successful conveyance of awareness as well as appreciation of a career in the hospitality field? particularly to those ?youngsters? approaching the career decision-making juncture. On an industry-wide level, one of the newer