Help to create new jobs in hospitality

Finding reliable, conscientious and efficient workers in hospitality can be a challenge for both small and large employers.

To help, Flinders University experts have developed a new toolkit and resources for small to medium size enterprises (SMEs) in hospitality which aims to help address worker shortages and open doors to a more inclusive and diverse workforce.

“We are seeing more awareness and willingness to employ people with intellectual disabilities because it can be more about employer readiness than job readiness,” says chief investigator Dr Ashokkumar (Ashok) Manoharan, from the College of Business, Government and Law at Flinders University.

Diversity Pathways is a collaborative research group within the Centre for Social Impact (CSI) at Flinders University that aims to promote greater engagement in employment and social inclusion for people with a disability.

“Employing people with disabilities makes good business sense and, of course, people with intellectual disabilities have the right to be included in everyday life – in workplaces and the community.

“This project aims to stimulate demand for employment of people with intellectual disabilities in the hospitality SME sector while providing the structure to foster relationships to promote future employment opportunities.”

With funding from the Endeavour Foundation Disability Research Fund, the toolkit is built on widespread consultation with stakeholders, including a national survey of hospitality SMEs, disability employment service providers and several students and other Australians with intellectual disabilities.

With appropriate support, people with an intellectual disability have much to offer the sector – and other industries.

“The framework offers the hospitality industry a means to adopt a more proactive, collective and strategic approach to address long-standing talent challenges,” says Dr Manoharan, a Senior Lecturer in Strategic Management at Flinders University.

Dr Ashokkumar Manoharan, Senior Lecturer in Strategic Management, College of Business, Government and Law.

Barriers to employment may include ‘myths’ such as ‘most intellectual disabilities are severe,’ ‘hiring and training these workers could be expensive,’ ‘new workers may need additional support,’ ‘they may injure themselves,’ or ‘need additional time off work.’

“By removing some of the barriers, SMEs which make up a large part of employment in hospitality can get in line with some of the larger organisation which already successfully employ people with an intellectual disability.

“Managers of staff, owners of hotels, clubs, venues, cafes and restaurants will find many positive effects from employing people with disabilities, and most can be trained to perform at the same level as other employees,” says Dr Manoharan, who has worked extensively on building best practice in hospitality sector employment.

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