The hospitality industry may have suffered job losses due to Covid-19, but it is still important that we work hard to attract new talent, says Royal Lancaster London general manager Sally Beck.
A ccording to figures from UKHospitality, 660,000 jobs in the UK's hospitality sector were lost last year. This is a terrible blow to our industry, and it is heart-breaking to see talented individuals unable to do the work they love while restrictions are in place to help stop the spread of Covid-19.
However, despite these losses, it is important that the industry continues to challenge dated perceptions that hospitality is an industry in which people work long hours for low pay, and instead promote it as a great place to work.
In my view, it is more important than ever to recognise the value of not only looking after, retaining and developing people, but also attracting new talent into the fold, which is one of the reasons why we are launching the Hoteliers' Charter.
The idea for the charter was born after I was awarded Hotelier of the Year in 2019. I reflected on the industry and realised that its reputation as a great employer had not changed much in over 30 years.
To many, we are still seen as a stopgap in a young person's career, with so many people falling into roles with us and then staying, rather than choosing us as a career. This was brought home to me when my daughter was planning to do work experience at our hotel and she asked a friend who was also interested in seeing what working in an hotel was like to join her. Her mother stopped the work experience, asking why her daughter would want to be a servant.
The Hoteliers' Charter is intended to dispel these outdated notions and educate both parents and youngsters about the benefits of attending a catering or hospitality college or working with a Charter Hotelier, where they can benefit from a good work-life balance, training, mentoring and apprenticeships. It is designed to highlight the fantastic opportunities we all know that are available and make it a career of choice for young people.
We ask all those who sign up to become a Charter Hotelier to commit to 10 pledges – in areas such as training and development, providing work-life balance, fair wages, diversity and sustainability – to prove that the industry is one we take seriously.
As I previously mentioned, the impact of Covid-19 restrictions has led to job losses, but we know that these restrictions won't be in place forever and we'll need a strong, capable workforce to help us rebuild.
These restrictions won't be in place forever and we'll need a strong, capable workforce to help us rebuild
Remember too that Brexit prevents us from the same access to EU employees, making it twice as important that we appeal to students and young adults in the UK to consider a career in hospitality as the industry readies itself to bounce back after the pandemic.
People will always be at the heart of hospitality and they are the ones who will drive the industry forward post-pandemic and into the future, so we need to attract them now. The Hoteliers' Charter will serve as a force for good in helping us to improve awareness. Will you give us your support?
Sally Beck is founder of the Hoteliers' Charter, 2019 Hotelier of the Year and general manager of the Royal Lancaster London
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