Foodservice industry tackles skill shortage

Region's catering industry is facing a severe skills shortage in the coming years, it has been predicted.
Foodservice industry tackles skill shortage
By Lynne Nolan
Wed 08 Aug 2007 04:18 PM

The Middle East's catering industry is set to face a severe skills shortage in the coming years, it has been predicted.

Booms in the hospitality industries of India, the Philippines and China will affect the current recruitment predicament in the region, according to many professionals in the region.

Sunny Joseph, assistant food and beverage director, The Fairmont Dubai, said people would be available from employee source markets, however lacking the adequate training.

"I predict there will be a huge shortage of quality chefs and service staff in the next few years, as staff are becoming a limited resource that everyone wants, and with countries like India and China offering good salaries to expatriates, the situation is set to worsen."

Joseph said large-scale events including Beijing 2008 Olympic Games would come as a blow to recruitment officers in the UAE. The Fairmont Dubai has rolled out a number of preventative measures to bolster its prospective employee numbers in the future.

"We have hired dedicated food and beverage trainers in every department since the start of this year, and our recruitment process involves structured interviews in English whether for a pot washer or waiter.

"The market is very tight, yet we had a recruitment drive in China last year, with those staff now proving star colleagues, and we have English classes, sponsored by the hotel."

The hotel group has recently introduced interviews in Arabic, Joseph revealed, in an effort to aid expansion in markets including Cairo and Abu Dhabi. The luxury property has also made firm efforts to hire Emiratis; however just three of the 820-strong team are locals.

"It's a demanding job but there is a lack of awareness about this industry, however we are seeing growing numbers of Emiratis showing interest every year," Joseph commented.

Kingdom Hotels joined with Colony Capital to acquire Fairmont Hotels & Resorts in the summer of 2006, merging it with the Raffles and Swissôtel brands.

Joseph said the acquisition has proved a major asset at The Fairmont Dubai, with continued efforts to bring in chefs and ideas from other properties. The Fairmont Dubai is currently running its Taste of Russia promotion at Spectrum On One restaurant, with renowned chefs from its sister hotel Swissôtel Krasnye Holmy in Moscow.

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