With the sector facing a staffing shortfall for the foreseeable future, The Caterer is relaunching Think Again to encourage young people into hospitality careers. Associate editor Neil Gerrard outlines the campaign
Here at The Caterer, we know just what a rewarding field this sector can be when it comes to developing a successful and fulfilling career. And yet operators still face a challenge when it comes to recruiting the right staff into the right positions and in the right volume.
A recent report by hospitality skills and workforce development charity People 1st estimated that the sector still needs 993,000 staff by 2022, with 870,000 needed to replace existing staff. Meanwhile, 21% of hospitality and tourism businesses claim that staff lack essential skills.
Against this backdrop, we have the government's attempts to reshape the way in which apprenticeships are funded, with the apprenticeship levy on its way in April 2017.
The good news is that more apprenticeships should give rise to more training opportunities within the hospitality industry, going at least some way to helping to plug that skills gap.
Good news for business, but also good news for young people when you consider that a recent report by Barclays found that apprentices can earn up to 270% more over their lifetime than university graduates.
But more needs to be done. Back in 2012, The Caterer launched the Think Again campaign. The idea was to highlight the many excellent opportunities on offer in hotels, restaurants, foodservice firms and pubs up and down the UK. We championed the hospitality sector as a credible route to career success and happiness, having witnessed thousands of examples of just that over our many years reporting in the sector.
After an editorial campaign lasting several months, we targeted thousands of schools around the country and sent out a digital supplement with all the positive content about hospitality we had generated, along with practical advice on how to kickstart a career in the sector.
Now, four years on, we have decided it is time once again to inspire tomorrow's professionals by relaunching Think Again at a critical time, and we're delighted to announce Sodexo as a campaign partner.
Our new Think Again campaign will offer guidance to operators on how best to engage with their local community to promote hospitality as a career of choice.
It will cast light on ways to promote the industry - from the Big Conversation to Adopt-a-School, apprenticeships and work experience placements - and it will challenge operators to pledge to adopt a local secondary school or college.
Think Again will also provide best practice on how operators can attract, train and retain the best talent on the market.
At the end of our campaign, we will collate all Think Again content in a digital supplement, which we will send to schools, career advisers, MPs and other key influencers.
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