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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.

Become a member of the HATS network

Play a leading role in influencing industry-led approaches to attraction, retention and engagement strategies. Join HATS now to support industry growth and access a range of insights, best practice and guidance on available skills support to help you attract and develop talent.

Become a member

Latest updates

To keep up to date with the latest new on skills in Northern Ireland, join the HATS network


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.

Guide to funded skills support

The HATS network has partnered with the Department for the Economy to bring you this guide to a range of available skills support to help hospitality and tourism businesses retain talent through this difficult time and develop the skills needed for the future.

View the guide

Employer guide to recruitment support

HATS has developed an employer guide to recruitment support to help sector businesses access the range of support programmes and services available to help recruit the right talent for your business and build a talent pipeline. 

View the guide

Steps to re-engaging your workforce

HATS has worked in conjunction with Invest NI to produce recommended steps for re-engaging staff on their return after lockdown.

View the recommended steps

Hospitality & Tourism Recovery Programme

The HATS network is delighted to partner with the Department for the Economy and six colleges to deliver a Hospitality & Tourism Recovery Programme to provide skills support for managers. 

Find out more

Our Hospitality & Tourism Commitment - Code of working practices

'Our Hospitality & Tourism Commitment' is a voluntary code of working practices which covers critical areas, such as working hours and learning and development, and attempts to change the wider perception of the industry and to show that it is changing for the better.

Find out more & sign up