Shane Jolly has over twenty years of hotel industry experience under his belt. He currently works at Cordis, Auckland, where he has been hotel manager for two years. Prior to joining Cordis, he spent almost seven years as the director of rooms for Peninsula Hotels, first in Beijing and later in Bangkok. The role was his first outside of Hyatt, where he started his career as bell services team leader in Adelaide in 1996.

As a long-serving and knowledgeable figure in the industry, Jolly is well-equipped to offer some insight into the state of recruitment within the hotel sector. His diagnosis? Mixed.

“Currently, it’s very challenging to recruit in the hotel industry,” Jolly told Hotel Magazine. “It’s not quite at crisis point, but it is very difficult, with some positions remaining vacant for three to six months or longer.” Jolly described a double-edged sword when it comes to recruitment. On the one hand, a lack of suitable candidates are seeking work, leading hoteliers to source their employees from overseas, but on the other, an increasingly competitive recruitment sphere for international workers snaps up incoming talent. “Alternative industries can offer either better wages or, for foreign workers, better opportunities for work-based visas,” said Jolly.

Shane Jolly, hotel manager, Cordis Auckland

So long as Kiwis remain by and large uninterested in the hospitality industry, the sector will continue to be dominated by foreign workers. Jolly sees this state of affairs as a plus, though, and spoke enthusiastically of the benefits that come from an international workforce. “A great understanding of the international travellers that come to New Zealand is clearly one of the main benefits, even if it’s as simple as being able to have a colleague that can speak to a guest in their native language to assist with providing service” he explained. “Sharing of skills and cultures amongst colleagues within the business is also another benefit.”

But it’s not all good news. According to Jolly, the government is making it increasingly difficult to obtain working visas, and proposed changes mean the future looks bleak. “For now, these hurdles are still worth jumping. But in future it may get to the point that it becomes either too difficult or too expensive, and if there are no changes to the number of employable locals in this sector, there will be some very challenging times ahead.”

It’s a challenge previously addressed by Leanne Harwood, who spoke at HIC 2019 of the hospitality industry’s lack of appeal to young people. Jolly agreed with Harwood, and argued that more needs to be done to make working in the hospitality industry a more attractive proposition. “Tourism is a key industry for New Zealand, and hotels have an important role in this sector,” he said. “Advertising or marketing to shine a light on these jobs will help, but there also needs to be support within the education sector. More specific hotel-training courses are needed to not only raise the profile of working in Hotels but also increase the quantity and quality of people entering into the hospitality industry.”

Despite his prognosis, Jolly remains resiliently optimistic about the future of his chosen industry. “There is a job for everyone in hospitality. It’s a fun a dynamic industry to work in – it just needs more education opportunities and support from the government when comes to visa legislation,” he explained. As a well-travelled hotelier himself, Jolly has spent twenty years enjoying the fruits of the hotel sector, and he’s a compelling spokesperson for the industry. “You can do anything you want in this industry,” Jolly raved. “We have every known job there is, from finance to marketing and from cooking to carrying bags. There is no limit to what you can do, there are great opportunities for professional growth, and a chance to see the world!”