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Where are the British workers?

17 June 2011
Where are the British workers?

The reason that the British are under-represented in hospitality is because they are lazy, argues Chris Dreyfus, an independent writer and consultant

Last month's coveted Galvin Cup competition threw up more than just a deliciously mixed cocktail or two. Out of the 33 professional competitors only three were British - sending competition committee member and Frenchman Fred Sirieix into a little Twitter rant that there should be more British people in UK hospitality.

So are the British really so under-represented in the UK hospitality industry? And if so, how do we fix it?

A 2008 Mintel report estimated that about 40% of workers in the industry are migrant workers, with some businesses as high as 80%. Immediate availability and the migrant workers' work ethic were seen as key benefits. This contrasts with the perception that UK workers regard working in restaurants as "beneath them" or too poorly paid to bother.

How on earth did we end up in this unacceptable position? My own summary is this: the British are lazy. We used not to be but the emergence of service industries and technology has created a perception that jobs should be "easy".

Working in any part of hospitality requires hard work. Early mornings, late nights, constant movement, heavy lifting, dealing with customers.

Yet there are rewards to be had, not least the feeling of pleasure and warmth in knowing that someone has enjoyed the food you have prepared and served. That feeling of, well, hospitality.

Here's my action plan to make the British more interested in hospitality:

â- Let's get educational. Better education helps people grow and motivate staff. Product, service and business knowledge are key to a successful industry.

â- Let's get attractive. Let's encourage those already working in hospitality to act as ambassadors, ensure we pay staff properly, and give them the training they require and deserve.

â- Let's get a medal. Highlighting talent motivates staff and is a great way to capture interest of those with the potential to achieve. Competitions like the Galvin Cup are key.

â- Let's get tough. Sometimes people need a little bit of a push. With unemployment statistics at current levels forcing people into jobs may not be ideal, but for some it will be just what they needed.

None of this means that we don't need or want passionate people from all over the world to come and work in our hospitality sector. But the British hospitality industry is growing. Let's encourage the British to grow with it.

â- Visit Chris Dreyfus's website, Silver and Claret: www.silverandclaret.com

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