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Viewpoint: Why it’s time to Think Again about skills in hospitality

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Viewpoint: Why it’s time to Think Again about skills in hospitality
Written by:

Here at The Caterer, we know just what a rewarding field this sector can be when it comes to developing a successful and fulfilling career.

And yet operators still face a challenge when it comes to recruiting the right staff into the right positions and in the right volume.

A recent report by hospitality skills and workforce development charity People 1st estimated that the sector still needs 993,000 staff by 2022, with 870,000 needed to replace existing staff.

Meanwhile, 21% of hospitality and tourism businesses claim that staff lack essential skills.

It’s an acute problem, and has never been so relevant at a time when one of the potential impacts of Brexit is that staff are yet harder to come by, with the possibility that freedom of EU migrants could, in the future, be restricted. Nonetheless, Brexit also presents a great opportunity – because if there were ever a time to get truly serious about encouraging young people to engage in hospitality, to upskill the existing workforce, and to make inroads into improving staff retention then surely the time is now.

Against this backdrop, we have the Government’s attempts to reshape the way in which apprenticeships are funded, with the apprenticeship levy on its way in April 2017.

The good news is that more apprenticeships should give rise to more training opportunities within the hospitality industry, going at least some way to helping to plug that skills gap.

Good news for business, but also good news for young people when you consider that a recent report by Barclays found that apprentices can earn up to 270% more over their lifetime than university graduates.

But more needs to be done.

Back in 2012, The Caterer launched our Think Again campaign. The idea was to highlight the many excellent opportunities on offer in hotels, restaurants, foodservice firms and pubs up and down the UK. We championed the hospitality sector as a credible route to career success and happiness, having witnessed thousands of examples of just that over our many years reporting in the sector.

After an editorial campaign lasting several months, we targeted thousands of schools around the country and sent out a digital supplement with all the positive content about hospitality we had generated, along with practical advice on how to kickstart a career in the sector.

Now, four years on, we have decided it is time once again to inspire tomorrow’s professionals by relaunching Think Again at a critical time for the industry, and we’re delighted to announce Sodexo as a campaign partner.

Our new Think Again campaign will offer guidance to operators on how best to engage with their local community to promote hospitality as a career of choice.

It will cast light on the many ways of promoting the industry, from the Big Conversation to Chefs Adopt-a-School; and from apprenticeships to work experience placements.

And it will challenge operators to pledge to adopt a local secondary school or college.

Think Again will also provide best practice to operators on how to attract, train and retain the best talent on the market.

At the end of our campaign, we will collate all Think Again content in a digital supplement, which we will send to schools, career advisers, MPs and other key influencers.

There are opportunities to be involved, both editorially and commercially. For editorial submissions, contact Neil Gerrard at; and for commercial opportunities, contact Mark Lewis at

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