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Low paid does not mean low skilled

Julie Price, executive director of the HBAA, on the value of those working in the events industry

Many thousands of highly trained and skilled workers such as those in the hospitality and events sector are continually undervalued by being classified as low or unskilled in reports and discussions in the media.

There is gathering concern about this from all corners of the hospitality industry including the one I represent - hospitality and events.

The roots of this lie in that, too often, low paid is mistakenly automatically conflated with low skilled. Many service-based skills in this sector are taken for granted. They are different skills, not low-level skills, and can be under-appreciated by those outside the industry. Managing a busy bar shift, co-ordinating a corporate event or servicing ten bedrooms immaculately requires a set of aptitudes which cannot be described as low-skilled.

These lower paid workers apply great skill and commitment to vital roles, often working long hours at anti-social times for major UK industries such as hospitality and events which is the UK’s third largest private sector employer and contributes £39 billion to the economy - more than the automotive, pharmaceutical and aeronautical sectors put together.

We all appreciate that employment involves a range of salaries but referring to those working in lower paid roles as low skilled completely undermines the ongoing efforts made by companies to attract the individuals, UK nationals or otherwise, needed to keep the wheels of industry turning.