General Industry

Hospitality Businesses In NI Face Skills Gap

By Robert McHugh
Hospitality Businesses In NI Face Skills Gap

A new survey has found that a skills gap is impacting nearly two-thirds of hospitality and foodservice businesses in Northern Ireland.

IFEX, Northen Ireland’s largest hospitality and foodservice trade event, carried out the survey to inform planning and feature requirements ahead of the next IFEX event – taking place from the 5-7 March 2024.

Biggest Challenge

The survey found that the second biggest challenge in the industry was staff and skills shortages, ranking just behind rising overhead costs, with 75% agreeing that apprenticeships and skills development are essential for the future of the foodservice, hospitality, and retail industries.

Slightly more than half (54%) of employers had supported skills development with over 30% of businesses currently running an apprenticeship programme.

'Home Of Innovation'

IFEX said addressing the skills gap will be one of the main features of the three-day show which returns to the Titanic Exhibition Centre, Belfast in March 2024.


“A larger show, coupled with new features, excellent exhibitors and attractions that encourage and reward talent within the hospitality sector, will make IFEX the home of innovation for hospitality and retail from the 5th – 7th March next year,” said Toby Wand, managing director of 365 Events, organisers of IFEX.

'Skills Hub'

IFEX has also announced it will be increasing the show’s footprint by 40% by adding another hall.

This is where a new ‘Skills Hub’ will be housed to create a three-day actioned packed competition area for bakers, butchers and baristas.

Confirmed show attractions include Salon Culinaire Belfast, which comprises of the ChefSkills Theatre, Great Taste Market and new for 2024, the NI Skills Hub, Spotlight Stage and the IFEX Master’s Arena.