Incoming Hotelier of the Year Craig Bancroft has made an impassioned pledge "to make a difference" with a national multi-million pound campaign to tackle the skills shortage that is threatening the future of the hospitality industry.
Speaking at Soho Farmhouse, near Great Tew, Oxfordshire, after being presented with the 2016 award, Bancroft, managing director of Northcote in Langho, Lancashire, said that, having heard so many people speaking about the dwindling pipeline of staff, now is the time to stop talking and act.
"We have to find a way to get children, parents, teachers, careers officers and university heads to understand that we're looking for amazing, vibrant and exciting people who have got an ultimate goal to be brilliant," he told the audience that included many past winners of the 34-year-old award. "This industry creates people from nothing and can also make people who have got something greater.
"The industry has so much opportunity for young and old alike, but there is something around the aura of what we do that people just don't get. If we don't change the mind set of people, we will continue to struggle to support the number of hotels opening ever single month and the shed loads of restaurants opening every single day.
"Where do you think the people are going to come from to run them? Where is our next Hotelier of the Year going to come from?
Bancroft went on to say that businesses need to reconsider their priorities and instead of making decisions on spending millions of pounds on a new extension, swimming pool or spa project, should think about putting £100,000, £200,000 or £300,000 into promoting the industry via a national campaign that says this business is great.
In particular, he said that there is a need for an advertising campaign, backed by money from major multi-national companies, along the lines of those being currently run on television to recruit people for the teaching profession and the army.
"We need to get people to understand this business brings a vibrancy and a sensation of success.
"We need accountants, marketers, gardeners, project managers, HR directors and construction analysts. We need every single facet from every other industry on this planet. We are not just about chefs and waiters. We don't just need a few people, we need a bloody army.
"The time for talking has stopped. We now need to find the funds to tackle the problem and make a difference. We need to find the next generation for the industry and we need to find them in spades."
Launched in 1983, The Caterer's Hotelier of the Year award is supported by Casna. This year's award was hosted by the 2015 winner Nick Jones, founder and chief executive of Soho House & Co.
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