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Hospitality & Tourism Skills (HATS) network

Addressing talent attraction and retention in tourism through collaboration

The HATS employer-led network, which formed in 2019, brings together a diverse mix of employers from across the hospitality and tourism sector in Northern Ireland alongside industry associations and key delivery partners from government and education to collectively address issues around sector image, attractiveness and skills development into and within the sector. 

It aims to deliver a three-year action plan, informed by a robust evidence base, with its activities focused across three work-streams:

  1. Engage - harnessing collaborative working across key partners and leveraging existing resources for skills and career development to maximum effect
  2. Retain - promoting good working practices and building industry awareness of available skills support to retain talent.
  3. Attract - maximising promotion of the sector to encourage and support recruitment of new talent into future employment.

Latest updates

To keep up to date with the latest new on skills in Northern Ireland, sign up for updates from HATS.

Building back with a skilled hospitality & tourism workforce

In our latest opinion piece for Hospitality Review NI, we highlight the need to focus on our people as we navigate through the pandemic and we explore the support measures available to employers across the industry. 

Read the article > 

COVID-19: Impact on skills in tourism & hospitality

To assess the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the skills needs of the toursim and hospitality industry across Northern Ireland, the Hospitality and Tourism Skills (HATS) network in collaboration with People 1st International surveyed 376 employers across the sector.  In these latest insights, three quarters of employers report that staff are feeling anxious and stressed, with their mental and physical wellbeing affected.   

In a bid to restore consumer confidence and get their people up and running as they prepare to re-open, employers are taking a skills-led approach to both managing the transition back to work as well as being ready for customers.

Well over three-quarters of respondents say the ability of business leaders and managers to boost motivation, morale and productivity will be key. This means ensuring that managers are equipped with critical thinking, decision-making and problem-solving skills, so that they can manage uncertainty as well as ensuring that their teams are engaged.

Key findings
Key recommendations

Resilience in the aftermath of COVID-19 is key to the recovery of hospitality, retail, travel and aviation. Several short-term recommendations are emerging as critical factors to consider as businesses plan to re-open their doors.

For further information about HATS please contact Roisin McKee, HATS Project Director, info@hats.co.uk, 07976748678.


The HATS network project is supported by Invest Northern Ireland under its Collaborative Growth Programme. 

Founding members: Bishops Gate Hotel, Airporter, Coppi Restaurants, Fitzwilliam Hotel, Westville Hotel Group, James St & Co, Hastings Hotels Group, Titanic Belfast, McKeever Hotels Group, Dalata Hotels, Andras House Hotels, Beannchor, Galgorm Spa & Golf Resort, AC Marriott and Northern Ireland Hotels Federation.

Partners: Department for the Economy, Department for Communities, Invest NI, Tourism NI, Institute of Hospitality, FE Tourism Hub, Ulster University, Springboard, NI Tourism Alliance.

Available skills support:

Curriculum hub - short courses for hospitality & tourism

As part of a collaboration of FE colleges working together with the HATS network to support hospitality and tourism, a number of short courses and support are available in areas such as:

- Health & safety
- Hygiene essentials
- Digital marketing
- Customer service
- Innovation 

Find out more

Free short-term courses to improve skills

The Department for the Economy is supporting over 3,000 free places on short courses, delivered by the local further and higher education providers. The courses provide an opportunity to re-skill and upskill into areas where job growth is expected to be high as we emerge from the impact of coronavirus.

Find out more

WorldHost 2020

Empower your staff to keep customers and colleagues safe beyond Covid-19 & drive positive behaviours in a rapidly changing customer facing environment with our WorldHost 2020 e-learning programme. 

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Work placements to support your business

Ulster University can help your business to secure time, talent, and skills with their established placement programme and they have introduced new levels of flexibility to better support your business needs.

Find out more