Hospitality recruitment: New blood is the industry's biggest challenge

The hospitality industry needs to recruit 600,000 new people by 2020 to support its rapid growth. But, says FCSI UK&I chair Niccola Boyd-Stevenson, making sure it gets the right new blood is one of the sector's biggest challenges

Niccola Boyd-Stevenson, FCSI UK&I chair

Foodservice and hospitality is a growing industry with the total eating out market forecasted to reach £90billion by 2017. It’s also constantly evolving in response to trends and influences. We are seeing operators pushing the boundaries across Europe with fantastic concepts and the influence of technology adding to the consumer’s eating-out experience. How many of us are now sharing our foodie experience online?

Why does hospitality find it hard to attract the best young people?

So despite the industry’s dynamism, why is it that we find it hard to attract and recruit young people? On the one hand we are entering a new era of eating out while on the other we have a shortage of ‘new blood’ to help drive it forward.

Each geographical market has its own challenges, which are illustrated by some shocking employment statistics. For example, according to People1st, in the UK we need to recruit an additional 600,000 people by 2020 in order to satisfy the growing demand for hospitality. In contrast, over half of Spanish 16-25 year olds are out of work and are leaving to seek out employment elsewhere, creating a void of hospitality workers as the country recovers from its recession.

Though the statistics are different, there are some clear similarities as to why it’s so hard to recruit young people into the industry. At the heart of it is that hospitality careers are just not on the radar for young people. For example, only one in five British 16-24 year olds say they would consider it as a career. This seems baffling as it’s estimated that across the UK there are some 900,000 young people not in education, employment or training.

So what’s the solution? It’s by no means a quick fix, but there are some immediate areas that we can improve as an industry.

Firstly, we need to create more jobs that young people are inspired by and want to do. A good example of this is the UK’s Big Hospitality Conversation, which has already created 34,000 jobs for young workers by partnering with some of the UK’s leading chefs and businesses.

We also need to offer young people more work experience and apprenticeships. A lot of businesses are doing this well but only 17% of hospitality and foodservice businesses offer any scheme, which is well below the national averages of 28%. It’s proven that through this type of scheme, employers give young people the opportunity to develop new skills, build experience and they are more likely to recruit them afterwards.And we need to educate young people about the opportunities that exist. We need to communicate that hospitality is a career, an exciting industry to work in and that it presents an immense range of opportunities.

One way we’ve successfully promoted consultancy as a career option in the UK is through a partnership with The Royal Academy of Culinary Arts, where we talk to young chefs and provide them with FCSI membership.

But just having the initiatives in place this isn’t enough. We need to engage young people in the way they want to be communicated through. Social networking and new technology, such as the FCSI App ,will play a key role in  attracting the younger generation.

Our industry is entering a new era in terms of demand. We need to apply that same level of  innovation and energy into creating a pipeline of recruitment that will ensure it continues to flourish.

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