We need to enthuse the next generation if we're to fill the vacancies that will be left in the post-Brexit workforce, says Jessica Rowney
I know what you're thinking: Brexit is already having a negative impact on my business.
The hospitality and events industry is heavily dependent on migrant workers. A massive 24% of the total sector workforce consists of non-UK nationals - nearly half of them from continental EU states. New uncertainty about visas and sponsorship requirements following Brexit has left a sour taste, and the future of our dazzling industry is problematic and uncertain.
What, then, is the solution, and how exactly will it benefit your children?
We asked a group of top hospitality professionals about the changes we need to make post-Brexit. A key argument of the leave campaign was to see more jobs becoming available for British nationals, even if this won't necessarily happen. What we will find, though, is companies having to work harder to educate kids.
We need to focus on helping young people understand the culture of hospitality.
Presentations are made in schools by doctors and lawyers, but not by, say, the catering manager at the Brit Awards, who could paint a vibrant picture of the industry. People see hospitality as working in the local pub for a low wage and that is where the excitement stops.
We are already seeing initiatives emerge, with celebrity professionals leading the way, such as Jamie Oliver's creation of the Fifteen Foundation to inspire unemployed, young apprentices. Hiring people at the top level becomes increasingly difficult too, as salaries are not aligned with the skills required. If we want to keep people interested, we are going to need to offer competitive pay.
Opportunity in our industry is endless. Hate the thought of sitting at a desk all day? A restaurant general manager role would keep you engaged and active. Craving a nine-to- five routine? The industry can accommodate this easily too, in a contract catering position. Love to travel and see the world? Get involved with a big brand like Marriott Hotels and you can work internationally.
How heavily Brexit will affect our EU national workers remains to be seen, but one thing is abundantly clear: we need to be making changes immediately.
Jessica Rowney is a marketing communications specialist at Off to Work