Staff shortages are a serious issue in the hospitality industry with up to 3,000 entry-level jobs currently available, the Irish Hotels Federation annual conference has been told.
Outgoing federation president Michael Vaughan who runs Vaughan's Lodge in Lahinch, Co Clare said the industry was experiencing "serious difficulty" recruiting suitably qualified craft and entry level staff.
He said three out of every four hotels and guesthouses, or 75 per cent, had reported similar difficulties in hiring trained workers to fill entry level positions within their businesses. This compared with 64 per cent who reported difficulties this time last year.
According to the federation the skills shortage is getting progressively worse as the sector returns to growth. Mr Vaughan said that a clear role exists for training agency Solas and the local Education and Training Boards to help address the demand.
"We're calling on the Government to mandate Solas to set up of a dedicated hospitality training unit to bring hospitality training into main stream alongside other industries," Mr Vaughan told delegates at the Knightsbrook Hotel in Co Meath.
"We need a new model for apprenticeships in our sector and greater clarity on how future training requirements will be met. To be effective, this must involve greater collaboration with industry and better use of existing resources across Education and Training Boards, VECs and Institutes of Technology" he said.
According to statistics presented to the conference:
Each year, tourism businesses including hotels, guesthouses, restaurants, pubs and bars need to replace in excess of 3,000 craft-level workers to natural attrition alone.
Some 67per cent of hoteliers plan to take on additional staff over the next 12 months.
Since 2011, over 23,000 new jobs have been created in the food and accommodation sector.
The tourism industry as a whole now supports almost 200,000 jobs - equivalent to 11percent of total employment in the country, some 54,000 are in the hotels sector.