Name of Network: Irish Hotels Federation Skillnet
Number of members: 300
Sector(s) covered Hotels and Guesthouses
Year established: 2021
Please describe what your Skillnet Business Network does and how it came about?
The Irish Hotels Federation (IHF) Skillnet is a sector-specific Skillnet Business Network representing hotels and guesthouses in Ireland. Establishing a Skillnet Business Network was an important step for the Irish Hotels Federation (IHF) as a means to offer relevant learning and development expertise to support its members nationwide. Launched in March 2021 during a Covid lockdown, whilst challenging at the time, in hindsight may have been an advantage for the Network. The pandemic heightened the need for skills development and upskilling across the industry, and IHF Skillnet was well-positioned to quickly address skills gaps and deliver practical training to facilitate the reopening of hotels and guesthouses.
Can you outline one important way your Network impacts positively on your sector?
IHF Skillnet is a one-stop shop for all the talent development needs of the hotel industry. We develop and offer bespoke training across a range of areas and address a variety of current gaps and future challenges. A key part of our success is the expert panel of trainers we work with, many of whom are from a hotel background, and understand hotel operations inside out.
What has been the most transformative initiative in your sector in the last year?
As a relatively new Skillnet Business Network, the ability to address industry gaps and develop bespoke accredited programmes has been transformative. For instance, in the current climate with the need to attract and retain staff, hotel human resources (HR) is a very challenging and constantly evolving role. To support and equip HR Managers in the hotel sector with the necessary skills, we developed a Level 7 Award Certificate in Applied Human Resource Management for Irish Hotels and Guesthouses with Griffith College that is 100% hotel focused and combines the key skills needed with the latest updates and legislation.
Similarly, as the hotel sector faces challenges in sustainability and increasing energy costs, we developed a Hotel Facilities Managers Certificate with Portobello Institute that offers practical tips and best practice for making hotel spaces more efficient.
What new trends do you see emerging within your industry?
Two emerging topics in the area of talent development for the hotel industry are Emotional Intelligence (EI) and Lean Skills focused on continuous improvement. There has been significant interest in the power of managing teams with EI. For example, buy-in from top management to put their entire hotel team through one of our EI programmes has resulted in teams with more self-awareness and empathy.
Lean Skills help to ensure hotel operations remain streamlined with less waste. We work with a six-sigma expert to adapt a range of lean skills focused on various hotel departments from the front office to kitchens and housekeeping. To see a simple everyday process removed or procedure turned on its head to increase efficiency is inspiring. The result is a workplace that is clean, uncluttered, safe and well-organised to help reduce waste and optimise productivity.
How is your Network using technology to facilitate learning and development programmes?
From day one we developed and delivered upskilling programmes virtually. We adopted online platforms such as Teams and Zoom very quickly and had little requirement to deliver learning and development solutions face-to-face. As we operate nationwide, we are continuously developing our hybrid delivery for longer-term courses so we can offer a blend of online and in-person.
While our participants appreciate the flexibility and convenience of not travelling for training, they also feedback that nothing beats the dynamic and rich learning experience you get with in-person training. We are considering adding more in-person days to future iterations of our programmes and continuing with online-only options too.
What skills do you think are most important for a small business owner/manager?
SME owner/managers need to remain curious and become lifelong learners to equip themselves with the skills and knowledge to stay relevant. They wear many hats and multitask, so we recommend regular short, focused bursts of learning and development to keep skills current.
Do you have any advice for a business that is considering joining a Skillnet Business Network?
Just do it! There is no downside to joining a Skillnet Business Network. It is such a rich resource with access to expert talent development, including tailored options for onsite training that is subsidised. You can dip into these valuable resources as much as your business and team require.
If you are thinking about developing the talent and skills of your hotel or guesthouse business visit the Irish Hotels Federation Skillnet website to see what upskilling and talent development opportunities are available.
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