LCCI Finds Soft Skills Essential for Unlocking Growth in London’s Hospitality Sector

The London Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) has hosted the first in its new series of roundtables intended to develop practical solutions to the soft skills shortages facing London businesses, with the ultimate aim of developing solutions to boost firms’ productivity and growth.

The series is led by LCCI’s Skills, Innovation and Entrepreneurship Group and will inform the key policy work of LCCI. The discussion was led by Anthony Impey MBE, Chair of the Committee and Chief Executive Officer of Be the Business, a not-for-profit organisation that is boosting productivity in the UK. The first roundtable, held at the offices of Be the Business, focussed on the hospitality sector which despite being one of the largest sectors in London and a major contributor to economic growth, faces some of the most severe skills shortages.

It convened senior figures in the industry including employers, policy makers and education providers to discuss the challenge of getting the ‘soft’ skills that hospitality businesses need. Soft skills play a pivotal role in hospitality serving as the cornerstone for exceptional guest experiences.

Attendees at the roundtable emphasised the importance of interpersonal skills such as effective communication, problem-solving and collaboration as well as aspiration, self-development, and cultural and emotional intelligence of employees.

During the discussion, attendees spoke about the need to empower younger generations by showcasing career pathways and potential for individuals within the industry, improving the workplace environment, cultivating confidence in employees through training and upskilling and challenging some of the negative perceptions associated with working in hospitality.

Commenting on the roundtable, Anthony Impey MBE, Chair of LCCI’s Skills, Innovation and Entrepreneurship Committee said:

“We were delighted to convene the inaugural skills roundtable today and to welcome leading figures in London’s hospitality and education sector to discuss the issue of soft skills.

“Our members frequently tell us that the current workforce, especially those at the start of their careers, lack essential ‘soft skills’ such as effective communication and problem solving making it extremely difficult to fill vacancies. For some hospitality businesses, it means that they can no longer open their doors every day of the week.

“During the discussion, we heard from leaders from across the hospitality sector about the specific soft skills that are essential for anyone wanting to work in the industry, as well as hearing fantastic examples of how they are investing to develop the talent they need. We heard about a range of soft skills that are of particular importance in hospitality, including keeping calm in pressured environments, being able to talk to guests face-to-face or on the telephone, and being able to respond positively to feedback.

“Contributors from the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) talked about the large number of people looking for work, several training providers talked about the training they offer, and employers talked about the number of unfilled vacancies – this roundtable was an important first step in moving us closer to matching these three opportunities together and producing tangible solutions that will ensure success and growth in the industry.”