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Comment: Think outside the box on recruitment

Social enterprises can help bridge the industry’s recruitment challenges, says Women In Travel’sAlessandra Alonso

It seems we have something of a recruitment issue on our hands.

A recent report in Travel Weekly shows that, according to data released by C&M Travel Recruitment and C&M Executive Recruitment, there has been a 49% rise month on month in the number of travel job vacancies, with available industry roles reaching pre-pandemic levels.

And while this is a fantastic, welcome barometer of travel businesses getting back on their feet, it went on to say that the number of roles far outstripped demand from those seeking work in the industry.

As the article says, the Covid-19 crisis has left a shortfall, with lots of “great talent” exiting the travel trade over the last 18 months. We need to ask ourselves what can be done to bridge the gap, and encourage new people, or returners, to our industry.

This is where social enterprises like Women in Travel CIC – which I founded five years ago with a mission to train and mentor women, particularly marginalised and vulnerable women, into jobs in travel and hospitality – can come in.

After working to empower women for over 15 years, I have come to firmly believe that if we understand, utilise and embrace the opportunities that social enterprises can present in recruiting talent, we can go a long way towards addressing some of the travel sector’s current challenges.

Women in Travel works with a range of employers, from hotel companies to tour operators and aviation services, connecting the women that we have trained and developed to businesses who are now reaping the benefits of an eager and previously-untapped workforce. Last year alone, we helped 150 women whose jobs were impacted by Covid-19.

And there are other fantastic social enterprises operating a similar model with refugees or people who are homeless, helping to bring this hidden or invisible talent to the surface. It’s a win-win, both for the individual and for companies that want to improve their social impact, and those that may not have the resource or budget to recruit via other means.

Working with social enterprises not only gives you a credible recruitment pipeline, it also helps you to stand out as a cause-centric business, which in turn boosts retention. While we all appreciate the current recruitment challenges are deep and complex, it is still true that a workforce proud of its employer’s values will be more motivated and committed.

During the pandemic we have adjusted to new ways of working and realised we can afford to be a lot more flexible than we once were. We can slice and dice jobs and roles in different ways that lend themselves to a much more diverse workforce.

The pandemic has also taught us the value of supporting each other, and we know consumers are increasingly motivated by social impact in their purchasing choices. They want to spend money with brands that are a force for good, and this includes treating staff well and putting diversity, equality and inclusion at the forefront of recruitment policies.

So as we approach peaks, where the staffing shortfall will be even more keenly felt, I encourage travel businesses to think outside the box with their recruitment, and see how we and other social enterprises can help them. The women we have trained have become proven assets to the businesses they now work for, and we can be a serious resource to help navigate this part of our industry’s recovery.


Alessandra Alonso is founder of Women in Travel CIC. To find out more about the recruitment, mentorship and training opportunities Women in Travel provides, email alessandra@womenintravelcic.com

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