By Daniel Hunter

The government has launched seven new schemes designed to boost the careers of low paid workers in retail and hospitality sectors.

Through mentoring, specific skills training and redesigning jobs these projects will increase business and staff productivity and ultimately raise pay for workers on low wages, the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES) said.

UKCES and the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) are joining forces with Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen Cornwall and other large employers like Pets at Home and Rocco Forte hotels, to look at the most effective ways of supporting people moving up the career ladder.

The retail and hospitality industries employ a total of 5.7 million people in the UK - that’s one in five of all jobs - but employers in these industries struggle with high staff turnover, skills gaps and low productivity.

Sean Taggart, UKCES Commissioner and co-owner and Chief Executive of Albatross Travel said: "Often despite the best efforts of employers in the sector, low pay and high staff turnover are too frequently the hall marks of the retail and hospitality industries. However, these employer-led projects are demonstrating that there is another way that we can break this cycle, to the benefit of both employers and employees. If we can think more creatively about how we design jobs, how we motivate and up-skill staff, and how we use technology to engage with the hardest to reach, we can begin to increase the productivity of our workforces, grow our businesses and pay people more as a result."

Employment Minister Priti Patel said: "Our long-term economic plan is creating a better, more prosperous future for Britain, with employment at an all-time high and more women in work than ever before. Through our welfare reforms we want to go even further to help people turn their lives around, by looking at how those earning close to the minimum wage can progress their careers.

"We are simplifying the welfare system through Universal Credit to make work pay and ensure that people can keep more of their hard earned money as they stay and progress into work. These joint projects will further give workers a boost, and by working with employers we can we help them retain staff and keep their talent."

Samantha Richardson, director of the National Coastal Tourism Academy (NCTA), one of the companies involved in the schemes, said: "The NCTA is thrilled to be part of the new UK Futures Programme. Lack of skilled hospitality staff is a problem throughout the industry. This project tackles the issues of high staff turnover and low wages head-on working with SMEs in coastal resorts.

"By working closely with a number of Bournemouth hotels, supporting them to deliver engagement programmes, analysing their induction processes and training, we aim to monitor the trajectory of staff on the minimum wage to encourage career growth and staff retention."