Accor HR director Philip Addison says in order to develop future talent the hotel sector must give young unemployed people a start in hospitality
As a leading employer in the UK hospitality industry, Accor is acutely aware of the difficulties young people are experiencing in finding their first career opportunity.
In October last year we decided to do something positive to help those with specific needs and ran the Hospitality Futures programme, one of a number of initiatives we are investing in to find and develop new talent in the UK hospitality industry. The programme, supported by the Accor Foundation, was run in conjunction with Springboard, and offered 18 young unemployed people a start in the hospitality industry. Five weeks of classroom training was followed by a two-week placement at one of the participating hotels, the aim being to help participants secure a permanent position.
The programme, as well as benefiting the participants and widening our talent pool, taught us some valuable lessons.
In our experience young people already have many useful and relevant skills, particularly in digital media. The participants quickly learnt how to refine and professionalise their skills. Tina, one of the group, told us that she gained valuable confidence through Hospitality Futures training and is now sure she wants to join the hotel industry.
Meanwhile, the partnership with Springboard, using their extensive experience of working with the young unemployed, allowed us to target the right audience.
Young people looking to move into our industry need our support. In particular they need help to transition from unemployment to employment - structured work experience and on-going mentoring is essential to keep recruits motivated.
The latest Office for National Statistics figures revealed that one in five 16- to 24-year-olds in the UK is unemployed, yet, according to the BHA, the hospitality industry could generate 236,000 jobs by 2015.
We plan to run the Hospitality Futures programme again this year. Through Accor's participation in the Big Conversation and Caterer and Hotelkeeper's Think Again campaign, we can share our experience and help eliminate youth unemployment, while answering the future employment needs of our industry.