By Georges Panayotis

The entire profession agrees that the sector is short of manpower. Very often, restaurants, bars, hotels are unable to find competent, motivated and loyal staff to make their business grow and provide irreproachable customer service. Once you have gone around and squared the circle, you find yourself back at the beginning. Consultations, experiments, meetings, debates, brainstorming… much effort has been put into finding a solution, but but they result in half-measures and ultimately do not really solve this problem. Nevertheless, it is central to our profession, which is based on know-how and human contact.

Parallel to this shortage, France and Europe attract a constant migratory flow that is far from being well received, to put it mildly. Rather than quarantine these immigrants, why not integrate them into a training program linked to professionals in the sector? This glaring lack of vital forces, which results either in the degradation of service or in the exhaustion of facility managers, and most certainly reduces the efficiency and productivity of the sites, could be addressed in this way. No matter what, in this period of recovery the need for manpower will only continue to grow. France, a great self-proclaimed tourism power, must not, however, deprive itself of innovation. Let us become a land of asylum that transforms adversity into opportunity rather than one of exile.

French higher education in hospitality also struggles to compete with the top international schools. Many of our managers, especially in high-end properties, are looking for profiles with international training. These leading hotel schools develop programmes and disseminate their know-how internationally. Some French schools have, nonetheless, managed to rise up among the best in the world, but France can hardly claim to be one of the world's leaders. However, it has a rich and varied heritage and history in tourism and gastronomy that could enable it to return to the forefront. The podium is currently occupied by countries that are less developped in tourism but have managed to take leading positions.

Certainly the government should not boast, multiply the number of Theodule committees or scratch its belly while it counts tourists, or even invent a thermometer to justify its policy. Instead, it must launch real projects to improve training and develop the skills of employees in our sector. Listen and meet more professionals in the field because those who currently advise the State probably do not know enough about the profession in its reality. French genius is not a prerogative of civil servants alone: our companies and schools have plenty and have talent to sell, provided that the government does not interfere, either as judge or party. Schools lack resources while companies lack investment and promotion. By investing wisely we can re-cultivate inspiration among future professionals in the sector.

Let us put an end to budgets that are squandered in gas plants without knowing what they will be used for or what they have created for the profession in terms of added value. Let us re-establish a State that is the driving force and catalyst of economic activity for the good of all, without exclusion or resentment.