Case Study: Economic Development

Leadership skills in the Sussex hospitality sector

Context

Navigating the fast-paced hospitality and tourism sector in Sussex has always been demanding. Recruitment complexities, talent retention, and nuanced management challenges are common hurdles.

Recognising these issues, Brighton & Hove VI Form College (BHASVIC) and always possible teamed up to design and deliver the Destination: Leadership programme.

This initiative, underpinned by insights from the Sussex Local Skills Improvement Plan (LSIP), aimed to bridge the support gap for industry managers.

An infographic page from the East Sussex Economic Impact Assessment report

Destination: Leadership targeted four critical areas:

  • Managing & mentoring people
  • Managing change
  • Managing conflict,
  • Inclusive leadership.

It offered a structured co-mentoring approach, where industry professionals and FE tutors went on  a mutual journey of growth – building competence and confidence through shared experiences.

 

The programme

 

The programme began with an initial assessment for all participants, producing personalised diagnostic reports outlining core existing skills and recommended areas for development.

Participants then received three hours of focused mentoring from experienced BHASVIC management and leadership skills specialists, providing a valuable sounding board to explore specific 21st century challenges.

A highlight was the Navigate360 full-day programme in March 2024, which featured hands-on problem-solving workshops and networking opportunities with regional leaders. always possible’s Sam Hawkins, Richard Freeman and Sarah Freeman curated a day of hands-on workshops and resources.

Guest leaders from American Express, Nostos, The Grand Hotel, and the Nursing & Midwifery Council offered invaluable advice and insights, ensuring the workshops were both practical and led by experience.

Outcomes

  • 5 senior BHASVIC staff, all at Head-of-Department level or above, participated as mentors.
  • Each mentor received dedicated training sessions from always possible, focusing on effective mentoring skills.
  • 9 leaders and managers from visitor economy businesses across Sussex took part in the programme.
  • Participants reported significant improvements in:
    • Generating motivation and commitment from zero-hours and seasonal employees.
    • Managing conflict and communicating consistently, fairly, and firmly.
    • Developing techniques for younger managers to ‘manage upwards’ older staff and higher-ups in their organisations.
  • 6 BHASVIC managers received up-to-date training on visitor and hospitality market challenges, mentorship and employee motivation.
  • Members of the always possible team led training on contemporary B2B communication in the digital world.

Impact

  • The programme fostered strong and meaningful links between local businesses and educators.
  • It promoted innovative staff development in response to the local economy’s needs.
  • Feedback from participants was overwhelmingly positive, with a retention rate of 90%.
  • The broader BHASVIC community benefited from the programme’s support in upskilling staff, better positioning them to support students in the local labour market.
  • Local businesses gained networking opportunities and access to free training.
  • BHASVIC established new links with businesses, enhancing future employer relations and supporting student employment outcomes.
  • DfE-funded video conferencing equipment was installed at BHASVIC, to be launched by Destination Leadership graduates during Skills Week in July.

What people said

 “I really valued what the speakers had to say. It was fascinating to hear from leaders in different sectors and the problems they face.”

“Another useful management tool was seeing and understanding the aspects of commitment and capability, and the different ways to get the best out of each person.”

“I really enjoyed having a chance to speak to other leaders.”

“I found the calibre of speakers and their messages superb. It gave a real focus to the programme.”

“I am gradually changing my whole mindset thanks to this.”

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