Adrian Ellis on expanding his hospitality student placement scheme around the UK
Hotelier of the Year Adrian Ellis discusses his Manchester initiative that other regions can follow to spread awareness of hospitality
We all recognise the need to reach out and engage with the community to promote hospitality careers, which is why in 2021 the members of Manchester Hoteliers Association developed a programme of events that we believe could provide a framework for other regions to follow.
We initiated a campaign to work more closely with schools in the region to improve the awareness of jobs and careers within the industry. This is on the back of significant recruitment challenges across the industry and over 4,000 vacancies in hospitality registered in the city in 2021.
Realising the need to change the perception and image of the industry, hoteliers in the city worked together to design a programme of events and meetings that would create greater awareness and enthusiasm for hospitality. Following a meeting of head teachers in the summer of 2021, 20 schools were partnered with 20 hotels and introductions were made so that teachers could meet with the leadership teams in their partnered hotels. Schools were particularly enthused with this programme as they now need to follow the Gatsby benchmark, which encourages partnerships between schools and industry.
A series of events then followed which included tours of the hotels for students to see the variety of work and careers that are available. Hotels then sent their chefs and kitchen teams to schools to provide cookery demonstrations and help with nutrition classes. Takeover days were organised, where students could work alongside hotel teams to serve lunch or afternoon tea together. Hotels organised bed-making competitions to introduce housekeeping ,which were fun but also informative, sparking interest in this very important department. Other activities included spa introductory days, sessions on how to book a wedding or birthday party and a number of career and open days available to all students.
Towards the end of term, each partnership organised parent events where parents were invited to the hotels along with their children to show the hotel, facilities and opportunities that exist for careers. This was very successful and really helped in changing the perception and encouraging the students into hospitality.
Ultimately, the aim was for parents to see hospitality as a profession and not just an opportunity for part-time or casual work. In the final few weeks of term, local colleges invited students that wanted to further their education in hospitality, so they could sign up for travel and tourism, hospitality and catering or health and beauty courses.
The success of this programme could be seen with more than 60 students signing up for college hospitality courses or continuing working part time with their partnered hotels once the programme had finished. The levels of enthusiasm and interest in hospitality was evident to see and made a big impact on several hundred school students that went through the programme.
Such was the success of this first year, the programme was expanded in 2022/2023 with 35 schools and 35 hotels now taking part. The activities are well under way and it is hoped to have many more students signing up for further education in hospitality or taking up careers in hotels after they leave school. The success of the programme in Manchester is now being used to help other regions develop something similar.
Hotel Associations in London, Cornwall, Lake District, Chester and Liverpool are all starting similar schemes and it is hoped that many more will take up this opportunity.
With a prototype now built in Manchester, I would urge interested hotel associations around the country to get in touch with the Manchester Hoteliers Association to learn more and to start this up in their own regions. This programme will go a long way in tackling the ongoing recruitment challenges in the industry and positively changing the perception and image of the industry.
Adrian Ellis is the 2022 Hotelier of the Year and general manager of the Lowry hotel
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