There are Several Reasons Why a Hospitality Career is more Attractive than ever in Today’s Climate…

…writes Peter Ducker FIH, chief executive, Institute of Hospitality.

Hospitality is everything you eat or drink outside the home, or where you sleep. It touches everyone every day, from a coffee stop on the way to work through to workplace catering to family celebrations and drinks with friends. Then there is the cost sector too, a vast operation including school meals, hospital catering prisons and the armed forces.

In recent years, hospitality in the UK has been a huge success story and has experienced phenomenal growth. Our workforce increased by 13% between 2011 and 2015, according to People 1st, with the restaurant industry alone creating over 120,000 new positions. This has had a particular impact on a number of roles, including chefs, which have increased by 49,000.

We have been aware of staff shortages for a number of years. We need to recruit 1.3m staff by 2024 of which 975,000 places are simply to replace existing staff, claims People 1st. This forecast underlines the high levels of staff turnover that exist in our sector.

Currently, a quarter of hospitality and tourism businesses have vacancies of which 38% consider hard to fill. Chefs and front of house staff are always mentioned as being particularly sought-after but the problem is across the industry at all levels and is set to get worse.

We do not know yet what future immigration policy will be, or what will happen to the status of our current European team members.  The level of uncertainty caused by Brexit is a concern for a sector that employs 24% of non-British nationals, particularly at a time of low unemployment and with fewer young people entering the job market.

This makes it all the more vital that we emphasise the current set of circumstance that are making a career in hospitality more attractive than ever.

Firstly, we read and hear from friends and relatives that the thought of a graduate debt of £40,000 is putting some young people off taking the university route. Secondly, we know that the impending Apprentice Levy is exercising the thoughts and training strategies of many businesses and the rationale behind apprentice programmes is now more compelling.

Thirdly, for those who do take the Higher Education path, recent research sponsored by the Institute of Hospitality found that only 7.7% of UK hospitality management graduates were unemployed six months after graduation. This gives colleges and universities a sound basis to promote their degrees: “You will get a job.”

Our industry has been perceived as a career of last resort for too long, and perhaps we have ourselves to blame for not grasping the nettle sooner on this score.

What many parents, teachers and careers advisers are failing to see is where that summer job in the local hotel or restaurant can lead. Hospitality offers a huge diversity of opportunities. We don’t just need chefs, waiters and receptionists, but a wide range of professionally-qualified personnel in areas such as general management, IT, sales and marketing, facilities management, human resources, analytics, revenue management, and real estate.

  • Now is the time, if ever there was one, to shout out about the opportunities and attractions of a career in hospitality.
  • It is perfect for learn-while-you-earn schemes, providing an internationally-recognised qualification without racking up debt.
  • It is an industry that is demonstrating its resilience in the current market and offers great opportunities for advancement, travel and a rewarding career in every sense.
  • There are many routes into our industry. You can enter at any level and rise to achieve your full potential. It is common to reach management status at a young age.

The Institute of Hospitality has a role to champion this campaign and highlight the opportunities that exist for a successful career in post-Brexit Britain. It’s a role we will relish.

In response to the pressures outlined above, enlightened businesses will want to put more emphasis on staff engagement, retention, progression and increased performance, but may not have all of the necessary resources in place to do it by themselves. We can help. Through Company Sponsored Membership you can enrol your entire management team into Institute membership in a cost-effective manner. The key initiatives we have to support staff retention and productivity include New Industry Management Standards (a vital tool to help plan your own career and manage your team’s career progression); online training modules tailored for our industry; plus management guides and original research. On the subject of apprenticeships, we are developing programmes to help our members, whether in large or small organisations, to create their own schemes to recruit, develop and retain staff.

The Institute of Hospitality has been uniting professionals, promoting excellence and facilitating learning for more than 75 years. Our members are amongst the best-connected and best-informed hospitality professionals in the world. In our disparate and vast industry, we believe that a sense of belonging and identity is important.

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