Gilgit-Baltistan:Hospitality sector needs to improve its image- ILO Study

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The hospitality sector in Pakistan needs to improve its image generally, and as an employer specifically, by providing better options in terms of policies, benefits, career plans, opportunities and remuneration keeping in mind gender roles.

The conclusion was made in a baseline study conducted by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) to establish gendered situation analyses of the hospitality sector. The primary objective of the study was to identify trends of the hospitality sector in Pakistan; working conditions; extent of decent employment currently prevailing; existing and emerging opportunities; skills shortages and corresponding training needs and mapping of major stakeholders.

The geographical focus was on the Lahore, Faisalabad, Karachi, Rawalpindi/Islamabad and Gilgit-Baltistan districts. Overall, the study shows that the hospitality sector needs to work towards cultivating a decent work culture. Working conditions within the sector are identified with low wages, poor or non-existent career structures, informal recruitment practices, unsocial and long working hours, and difficulties in recruitment and retention resulting in high levels of labour turnover.

The hospitality sector, ranges from hotels and transportation to recreation and entertainment, and tourism, and as part of the service industry in Pakistan, it contributes significantly to the country s economy (service sector s share of GDP was 59 per cent in 2009-2010). The study says that careers in the sector are diverse and allow professionals to work across the country, providing employment to employees with diverse skills and qualifications. However, with the prevailing recession and low tourist activity the sector growth has slowed down to being almost negligible.

The findings indicate that the sector is gender segregated both with respect to working conditions and opportunities. Consequently, occupational segregation is prevalent in the sector with women concentrated in caring or glamorous roles. The study mentions that organisational structures and environments need to be reformed and sensitised to reduce this phenomenon and provide equal opportunity to all.

It shows that gender roles of women are considered through the provision of pick and drop facility, maternity leaves and effective implementation of sexual harassment and discrimination policies however, there is need for further support in terms of provision of benefits and training and career opportunities.

Nationally, opportunities in hospitality and associated sectors vary regionally; some industries are more successful in one region, while another industry in another district. However, in larger cities (Islamabad, Lahore, etc.) new hotels are being developed and new establishments; restaurants, cafeterias and caterers are hiring the staff at management levels positions.

Emerging opportunities are also linked with what is considered appropriate men s work and women s work. There is strong demand of females for specific jobs such as GROs/CROs, front desk, marketing and sales, HR and training, etc. Limited international opportunities exist for professionals while based in Pakistan, but a considerable number of younger individuals in the sector have moved abroad to seek more secure work and gain experience, resulting in a brain drain and exacerbating recruitment challenges.

The requirement from the hospitality industry to deliver high-quality service and products, coupled with the labour intensive nature of the market, puts pressure to recruit and retain well-educated and trained professionals. Currently in Pakistan, the stock of skills (existing skills base available to enterprises) in the hospitality sector does not match the demand; and the flow and formation of skills (the formation and upgrading of skills on a continuous basis) is not optimally geared to remedy the situation or to meet the requirements of the near future.

The study says that career opportunities need to be promoted especially for women. These opportunities need to be formally announced in a transparent manner. As a policy measure, elimination of occupational segregation needs to be supplemented with greater investment in skill enhancement of women through education and vocational training an important component of human capital.

In addition, basic organisational changes and workplace strategies are required to facilitate further progress for gender equality in the sector. Efforts designed to de-segregate employment, through increasing level education of women and their entry in non-traditional fields will have little impact because employment practices, recruitment and training, correspond to the long-established interests of employers. Any effort directed toward de-segregation would clash with employers real and self-defined interests, unless and until employers interests and equal opportunities are aligned, The study illustrates the need for increased representation of female in Unions so that their rights can be advocated through these platforms.

Courtesy: The News

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