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Talking Talent: “We have a new generation of staff pushing us to change”

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Talking Talent: “We have a new generation of staff pushing us to change”

The Nestlé Professional autumn BuzzBites event took place last week at the Clink restaurant at HMP Brixton.

The Talking Talent event, part of a series of BuzzBite sessions included presentations from Barry Tonks, executive chef, Searcys at the Gherkin; Matthew Thomson, chief executive, Cornwall Food Foundation; and Simon McKinnon-Brahams, restaurant and chef training manager of the Clink Brixton, on attraction, retention and up-skilling.

Paul Lumley, brand & communications manager at Nestlé Professional, who facilitated the event, added results from recent research conducted by Nestlé Professional with 3GEM into the scale of recruitment needed within the hospitality industry.

This research shows that nearly a third (31%) of people don’t think hospitality is a career path you actively choose and that 45% of millennials consider a career in hospitality a “stop gap”.

And 73% of managers surveyed were concerned the hospitality industry is no longer an attractive career option for millennials; 18% of those currently working in the industry are thinking of leaving in the next year.

However, the report also showed that 70% of hospitality workers are proud to work in the industry and 53% of those outside the sector think it would be rewarding.

Tonks spoke about a toxic chef skills shortage, and how at the Gherkin, Searcys is working hard to work more collaboratively with chefs to provide shorter working weeks up to a maximum of 45 hours.

“We also organise freestyle Fridays,” said Tonks. “Where our chefs get to develop their own dishes and have them featured on our menus and on Instagram. And at 11am and 5pm all the team are made to sit down together for a meal – no excuses, no jobs while eating. Just sitting together with cutlery and talking to one another.”

During invited questions from guests at the lunch, Graham Ford, chief operating officer for Bill’s Restaurants, said: “We have a new generation of staff who are pushing us to change, which in my opinion is a win for the industry, as we needed to change.”

Thomson declared that the industry needs to leapfrog the perception of a subservient service attitude and make the focus about creativity in the industry. “As businesses, we should be spending the same amount of time thinking about our employee’s journey as we do about our customer’s journey. We need to help our experts grow, even if that means letting them go. I’ve found this approach always gets repaid,” he said.

McKinnon-Brahams talked about second chances and the Clink’s successful five-step training programme and everyday learning. Josh and Pablo, two Clink Brixton trainees, spoke openly at the end of the event, about the difference the Clink had made to their lives and given them purpose and new skills.

“The BuzzBites: Talking Talent report has been designed to help hospitality businesses tackle these challenges head on,” said Lumley.

“It brings together some of the biggest names in hospitality to offer best practice on the topic. It provides insight and innovative ideas on how to change outdated perceptions and top tips for how best to encourage new people into the industry for long-term careers,” he added.

Click here to download the full BuzzBites: Talking Talent report

Or visit for team progression and development opportunities.

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