As the country continues to reel from the uncertainty of Brexit, it is more important than ever that hospitality continues to push and promote itself as a key industry within the British business sector.
With many of our members reporting the challenge of changing junior employees’ perception of their role as a ‘job’ to a ‘career’, recently published research has also revealed a common misconception among young people that working in a hotel mainly involves dealing with difficult guests. However, there are many more of us lucky enough to love our jobs, so we need to find a way of communicating that to those viewing hospitality less favourably.
With a rising number of European workers – of which 700,000 work in the British hospitality industry - making the decision to leave the UK, this cause for concern highlights the fact that we must do all we can to position hospitality as a viable career option among the younger demographic.
But how can we do this?
A recent survey by InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) found that young people in the UK are unaware of the full range of roles available within the hospitality industry.
The research, which was carried out among 1,000 16-21 year olds, further revealed that less than a quarter would consider a career in hospitality, while almost a third admitted they do not view the industry as offering long-term career opportunities for them at a post-graduate level.
As an organisation we are committed to improving education within the industry, helping people to gain and develop the skills they need to further their career. We also sponsor schemes such as the Springboard Mentoring Gems, which aims to give students in hospitality-related courses a career-enhancing boost.
However, it is equally important that we target those about to embark on their career journey and raise awareness of the many opportunities presented within the hospitality industry.
When asked to name the top attributes of their ideal job, flexible working hours, career progression and the opportunity to travel rated highly among young people – all of which our industry offers. In addition, less than a fifth were aware it offers roles ranging from finance to IT and analytics, marketing to HR, as well as engineering, law and design.
However, while young people are a key target for us, it is also important that our reach is further ranging than just them as 42 per cent of the young Brits surveyed also admitted their job choices are high influenced by their parents.
Indeed, while addressing the audience at our Annual Learner Awards in January our President, Harry Murray, said the hospitality industry needs to stop talking about its “image problem” and focus on the unlimited opportunities it presents.
He said: “If we can get across the opportunities on offer to children and parents – this is why I’m optimistic – the talent is out there. This is a great industry to work in.”
Furthermore, with over 50 years’ experience within the industry, Harry added that there’s “nothing you can’t achieve in hospitality”.
His argument was supported by fellow panelist, Hugo McNestry, Hotel and Leisure Finance Consultant at Trothco Ltd., who addressed the “huge degree of uncertainty swirling around the industry” following Brexit, but said the best way to attract people is by “being a good employer and showing commitment.”
Ally Northfield, from Revenue by Design, is chair of HOSPA’s Revenue Management Committee. She said: “The easiest way to deal with the lack of revenue managers in the industry is to grow them from scratch. There needs to be greater engagement at student level to drive talent into the industry.”
She reiterated her point by identifying that recruitment success at Hilton Hotels and Resorts has been their creation of a culture which encourages employees to ‘stay and develop’, by offering internships and graduate schemes etc.
What these arguments all highlight is the need for better education and awareness. Moving forward, this is something that we at HOSPA are working towards, to improve knowledge of these opportunities and what a career in hospitality can offer in the long-term.