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Hospitality Industry Workforce Roundtable: Overcoming Challenges and Nurturing Growth

Welcoming more than 2 million tourists annually and with visitor spending generating over $40 million in local tax revenue, Cumberland County’s hospitality industry plays a significant role in fostering the county’s continued economic growth. Employing a sizable portion of the local workforce, the industry provides jobs ranging from hotel staff to restaurant personnel and more. While this sector demonstrated remarkable resilience and adaptability in the face of COVID, it continues to see workforce hiring and retention challenges.

The Cumberland Valley Visitors Bureau (CVVB), the tourism division of the Cumberland Area Economic Development Corporation (CAEDC), strongly encourages collaboration with our hospitality sector to support continued job creation and revenue generation. As a result, CAEDC hosted a Hospitality Industry Workforce Roundtable on August 24, 2023, that saw active participation from local hospitality representatives, including hotels and fast-food restaurants.

CAEDC staff led a productive discussion during which participants identified occupations that were challenging to fill and pinpointed the skills essential for these positions. Customer service, communication, reliability, and relationship skills emerged as key attributes. The group brainstormed possible target applicants for these jobs and the places to find them.

Participants also outlined opportunities and potential solutions to help build their talent pipeline, including alternatives to traditional hiring methods. Possible solutions to fill open positions include allowing flexible scheduling for new hires and becoming more active in high schools, creating awareness of career pathways in the hospitality industry.

The discussion prompted CAEDC to take the following steps to underscore its commitment to a robust hospitality sector.

1. Soft Skills Training: CAEDC plans to collaborate with nonprofit organizations to create a “soft skills” training program tailored to the top skills identified by the group. This outreach aims to bolster the capabilities of potential workforce entrants.

2. Career Pathways Development: CAEDC will work to craft career pathways focused on the hospitality industry showcasing the diverse opportunities available and helping high school students envision a trajectory beyond entry-level positions.

3. Advocate for Flexibility: Recognizing the value of work schedule flexibility, CAEDC will advocate, as necessary, with industry management and leaders on fostering a work environment that accommodates the needs of both employees and the industry.

As part of CAEDC’s strategic plan, staff will facilitate a series of industry-specific workforce roundtables that reflect the organization’s commitment to understanding and addressing ongoing concerns. Partners are encouraged to attend these sessions as they are planned.

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