'This is a bus journey not a taxi ride. No therapist means no spas. No spas mean no spa jobs and nowhere for spa brands to sell their goods. The UKSA is the bus. We have the plans, the means and resources to drive this initiative and campaign. But we need EVERYONE onboard with funding and support to make it happen.'
Helena Grzesk, General Manager
UK Spa Association
Experts from education, trade associations and operators claim that if the industry doesn't put aside all its usual objections and come together now, to solve this recruitment crisis, then suppliers and operators alike might as well give up. Because without spa therapists there can be no spas and then we'll all be out of a job....think about that!
With the recent disappointing news that Derby University are to cease their Spa Management degree qualification as of 2022, due to a steady decline of student numbers over recent years, it’s a further indication that the spa & wellness industry is one of the most undervalued and misunderstood.
Frequently dismissed by the medical community in favour of more invasive treatments, it is viewed by the public (especially men) as not relevant nor efficacious. Therefore, the dial urgently needs to shift in order to drive reappraisal and engagement with the spa industry and the passionate world of wellness it opens up.
It presents a strange phenomena, in that the spa industry is growing exponentially year on year, yet the industry in its current state, simply won’t have the therapists to sustain it.
The global spa market is projected to grow at the rate of 5.7% during the forecast period 2018 to 2023 (Mordor Intelligence 2019) and the value of the health and wellness market in the UK increased over the period observed from over 20.5 billion euro in 2015 to almost 23 billion euro in 2018. (Statista, March 2019).
The thriving UK spa industry should have the capacity in the future, to become the front line in preventative care, for the ailing NHS. With the global stress epidemic, many illnesses treated by the NHS emerge due to the nationwide lack of emotional, physical and mental self-care. There is an underlining lack of understanding however, of how spa & wellness treatments can be one of the most cost effective preventive cures and non-invasive ways to holistically improve an individual’s mental, physical and spiritual health and wellbeing.
Often regarded as an alternative therapy, everything points to the fact that future spas will become more mainstream, with spas looking to transition into 360 wellness centres.
The UK Spa Association however, are one step ahead and we have identified that the spa industry must come together as a whole, to tackle the skills shortage we collectively face. We have developed a clear strategy in the form of our Work For Wellness initiative, which was unveiled at our Summer Networking Day at South Lodge recently.
Work for Wellness is the UKSA’s five year strategic communications plan, designed to address the chronic need to attract new talent (in particular new therapists) into the industry. We as the UK Spa Association presented our pioneering action plan at our Summit last month, at Spa Life International. The campaign requires funding support in order to address the differing facets of the recruitment and retention crisis.
The association has identified the fact, that not only does our industry need to engage with the socially conscious zennials entering the workforce but additionally, the generation of their parents. Great strides need to be made in educating this older sector, that a vocation in spa, offers job satisfaction, opportunities for transformative travel, fast track career progression with attractive pay packages.
As part of the first year of the Work for Wellness campaign, a research division will be instructed, a round table discussion is to be organised, with a white paper to be produced and presented to a pre-determined MP, to lobby at governmental level.
Phase two will then introduce hard-hitting media relation’s activity and some high-level creative consumer engagement.
Finally and accessible to all spas, an on the ground initiative will allow operators in particular, to access students and careers advisors within schools and colleges nationwide, in order to introduce the many benefits of a career in spa. We will offer all the tools, so our members can confidentially introduce the opportunities of spa to a large audience but at a local community level.
Alex Hurt of Weavers Spa at The Swan at Lavenham, gave a very inspiring talk about the proactive action that she has already been taking and the success she's had through local schools engagement.
In fact, the response to the UKSA’s approach was so positive during the Summit that the association has started to recruit for an operational working party to assist in the production of this on the ground campaign.
Audience members attending the Summit, listened to the expert panellists, Helena Grzesk – General Manager to the UK Spa Association, Yvonne Ebdon of The University of Derby and Alex Hurt of Weavers Spa as they outlined: 5 Phases of the Work For Wellness campaign.
Phase 1 - Drive reappraisal of the spa/wellness industry
Phase 2 - Recruitment and retention of people within spa and wellness
Phase 3 - Showcase long term business opportunity of spa & wellness
Phase 4 - Industry spotlight - shine a light and showcase spa and wellness best in class
Phase 5 - Introducing best practice
The interactive Summit produced some fantastic feedback with suggestions regarding the tools, which will enable a spa team to visit schools. Suggestions included: the need for a ready to use presentation, video tutorials on how to present and get into schools in the first place and various ideas on leave-behind items to further inspire and engage students after the talk.
With regard to the creation of a diploma, the UK Spa Association asked the audience what barriers could be envisaged and the one sticking point seemed to be simply, time. However, we were able to allay these fears, as time out of the spa would be minimal, approximately 3 days per module, which is over 12 weeks, plus self study. Surely the future of our industry is worth that?
Now is the time to unite as an industry and work together to address this crisis. You can support the UKSA by joining as an operator or supplier member or even as an official sponsor of the Work For Wellness Campaign.