Industry focus with Fred Sirieix
Here's what Fred Sirieix believes needs to change about the hospitality industry, and how he thinks it should be done
With a CV bristling with high-profile front-of-house roles at La Tante Claire, Le Gavroche and Galvin at Windows, French-born Fred Sirieix has done time in this industry. So, in a climate where "you can't find staff for love nor money", what does he believe needs to change?
Invest funds in education
"In the UK, education needs investment. There were 280 catering colleges 20 years ago and now we have 120-130, depending on how you qualify a catering college. And we've got to take people early. I would build it into the curriculum in primary and secondary schools. If you teach people in the right way one or two may go on to work in the industry."
Invest time into the apprenticeship scheme
"There is a high drop-out rate, in some cases because youngsters feel they are being used as cheap labour. Employers need to take the time to train apprentices properly. There is an apprenticeship called CAP in France. You work three weeks in a business and one week in school for three years and at the end you take an exam and get a qualification."
Sort out tipping
"We shot ourselves in the foot during the pandemic when people were furloughed at 80% of their salary and tips were not included. What other industry pays its staff through the generosity of patrons?"
Give the industry one voice
"We don't have one voice that represents the 3.2 million people who work in this industry. Instead, separate bodies represent each sector or even job role. This is different to other industries. For me, there is a lack of vision."
Improve the industry's reputation
"Would you as a parent recommend your child goes into hospitality as a career? We need to do a clean-up on the marketing. The service charge issue doesn't resonate with people and the government says the industry is ‘unskilled'. It is demeaning. Who wants their kids to work somewhere badly paid with long hours?
"You can't run a restaurant on eight hours a day, but there needs to be a balance. There are many different pieces – it is a war and we can't fight just one battle, we need to fight them all at the same time. If you don't do it, in 10-20 years will we still be here?"
Image credit: Sarah Lucy Brown