Hospitality must do more to attract the next generation of workers, particularly with talent from the EU deserting the UK, hospitality leaders have warned.
According to a round table of hospitality HR and recruitment experts organised by HIT Training, there remain few UK nationals in entry level positions, particularly in London, despite the promotion of the apprenticeship levy.
Accor hotels HR director Fran Carr, who was part of the group discussing the changing talent landscape at the Clink restaurant in HMP Brixton, said: “In London more young people have returned home [to EU countries] as a result of Brexit. Though in the regions there is less turnover and increased retention. The fact is that London is a more transient and international workforce with few UK people in entry level positions.”
It was agreed that there was a lack of clarity around settled status, leading to increased uncertainty among the EU workforce.
“Lots of people left after the Brexit vote,” added HIT Training managing director Jill Whittaker. “But the exchange rate was a big influence. There is a flattening though and those employers that have picked up on settled status have seen the situation improve.”
At the discussion, HIT Training shared a survey of 16-20 year olds which found that two-thirds were considering taking on an apprenticeship. However, some 53% of the 243 respondents said that they wouldn’t consider a career in hospitality.
Sodexo’s culinary director David Mulcahy said that one way to engage the next generation was providing hands on training from base level.
“In the past we would assume a certain level of skill, but you can’t assume too much now,” he said. “A head chef may not have the skill or the time to train, which becomes a barrier to the recruits progress, so we need to deliver learning that facilitates that entry level vocational training.”
The panel agreed that getting the induction details right from the start was key to keeping a new employee engaged – that included making sure uniforms fit properly and back of house facilities to a decent standard.
Christina Andrighetti, head of concessions learning, development and talent at Casual Dining Group, said: “The biggest influence on people is whether they have had previous experience of the industry. But then when they return we need to make sure the experience is perfect.”
Carr added: “The next generation also want immediate feedback. There’s no use waiting for an annual appraisal or bonus, they want recognition now. Hotels need to look at the way they assess performance and have more immediate feedback.”