The Czech hotel business is not the only sector that constantly has difficulty with a lack of quality candidates for vacant work positions. Where else should we begin than with education?
Applicants to vocational schools usually apply only after not being accepted elsewhere, and so they are greatly unmotivated and usually are not interested in the given sector as such. It is no wonder, then, that not even the teachers want to work at these schools, since they are not adequately remunerated, as the finances for their payment and for the support of these schools are not great. The result is that outdated and completely inadequate teaching methods are used. Although students graduate from a vocational school, they are absolutely unprepared for professional life. The companies that hire these graduates then carry the burden, as they must teach them basic habits and skills.
The hospitality industry needs to be made more attractive and have its lost renown, the one it enjoyed during the era of the First Republic, returned. Because, to be a hotelier is not only a job, but a calling. Another aspect that depends on all of us is to have the students, teachers, and companies cooperate already during the student's studies, and that on a deeper level than a mere several-week-long apprenticeship. Examples could be apprenticeships, final projects, lectures, and more frequent sojourns directly in the hotel operation. In general, we should all communicate with each other more, and last but not least, we lobby for greater support from the government. Tourism and services comprise a major financial source for our economy, and people are key resources in these sectors.
This will take some time, however. Yet is there something that we can all do now to minimise the fluctuation and maximise the involvement of our employees? Yes, and that is searching for the potential in our current colleagues, to develop it, and to motivate them. And we do not mean using only financial means. Give your employees the space they need and let them do their job, support them in innovating and in having different approaches – this does not even cost us a penny!
It is clear that keeping our current employees is more effective and cheaper than finding new ones. The times when employers could choose from several tens of applicants for each position are long gone. Now, we can somewhat exaggerate by saying that finding quality people is like finding a needle in haystack. This is why I no longer choose my team members only for their skills or achieved education. It is essential that my future colleagues have personality, are talented, and have the opportunity to make use of their talents in the company. We all realise that these are the very people that are able to push us forward, that will increase our added value (especially in the sector of service and tourism), and thus help us gain a competitive advantage. However, we often talk about talents, yet we do not work with them enough; we do not develop the talents of our people, nor do we help them move forward in their careers. In the first place, it is important to begin with ourselves – do you know what your talent is?
Author: Klaus Pilz, Regional Director Vienna House Czech Republic, a hotel chain that operates 6 hotels in the Czech Republic.