Debate: Inspiring the next generation

Do you think the industry is doing enough to encourage young people to consider hospitality as a career?

Charles Merchie, general manager, Feversham Arms Hotel & Verbena Spa
The industry has so far, failed to cater for the growing abilities of the younger generation, and as a result, have lost their support as a prospective career choice. The lack of commitment to technical training offered at college level is a key factor in the declining role of young people, in addition to the low wage often offered on apprentice programs. Businesses should have a tax incentive to enrol young people without experience, with the objective to training them to their own individual standards. As an industry, we need a better link with colleges, and encourage them to pursue work experience as a compulsory measure in their curriculum.

Michael Ibbotson, owner of newly opened West Park Hotel
If you actually put your team on the same pedestal as your customers, we will make a much better industry for young people to be a part of. Although, the industry is getting better, we need to make it about prospects, fairness, good conditions of work and a bright career future. When I started out 20 years ago, there was a lot of kitchen bullying, aggression and really unpleasant behaviour, and I’ve worked really hard to get rid of that completely throughout my entire career. As soon as somebody thinks that this behaviour is acceptable, they put our industry back decades.

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Ross Grieve, general manager, Seaham Hall, Durham
I don’t think the industry as a whole is doing enough but I do think that there are certain organisations which are working hard on this; think Master Innholders and St Julian’s Scholars, plus of course Springboard. One of our major remits as hoteliers within these organisations is to really engage with the local colleges, universities, etc. Seaham Hall is working closely with Hartlepool College of Further Education, Sunderland College and also Durham New College. Firstly we are engaging them in the industry via seminars, talks, etc. – I go to present at the colleges along with our executive chef, ops manager and restaurant & bars manager. We’ve got a young team and that, I find, helps us engage with those still in education. Regarding our own team, we look to further educate them or to promote from within, to demonstrate that there is a career path that they can follow and benefit from.

Greg Henry general manager, The Cornwall Hotel, St Austell
Up to this point in time, I believe the industry needs to do more to encourage the enrolment of young people. As a consequence, the hospitality world now lacks the support to continue its succession into the generations that follow. The weakness is due to financial and time constraints in a profit driven industry, which of course is an important factor of any business. If more students were provided with a constructive insight into the opportunities that are presented to them through a prospective career in the hospitality industry enhanced by positive staff welfare, I believe that this would lead new and current into joining the many apprentice schemes available.

Jeremy Cassel, managing director, Cassel Hotels Ltd (The Felix, Cambridge and The Grange Hotel, York)
I don’t think enough is being done. I am not sure that it is the industry’s fault particularly as the incentive should come from the Government. More should be done to develop the catering colleges that used to be a major source but now so lack funds that they are unable to do so. The BHA try their hardest but as the industry is so diverse and disjointed I sympathise with the difficulty of trying to bring a co-ordinated push. However I see the need to encourage the young to stay in the business as more of an issue; turnover of staff is just too high.

Peter Hancock, CEO Pride of Britain Hotels
The hospitality industry employs a tenth of this country’s total workforce, of whom many are young, and the large rise in private sector jobs over the past couple of years has included lots of opportunities for young people. Where we still have a problem, in my opinion, is in persuading bright students to consider a service-based job as their first choice of career. That is partly because pay is low at entry level (as it is in most other industries) and there is a tendency among parents and teachers to fail to appreciate the career prospects of a life in hotels and catering.

Murray Ward MD, The Rutland Hotel Edinburgh
The hospitality industry to many has always been a fall back career and we need to change that perception. Both academic and vocational personalities can flourish in the hospitality industry but recruitment is key. We should offer more graduate programmes for all abilities and education establishments with both paid and unpaid placements. The key is to attract, retain and develop their careers and skill set.

Andrew Nicholson, Linthwaite House Hotel in Cumbria
The difficulty for us all is young people today have a whole different level of expectation, communication style and influences, schools, colleges and uni all want to keep them in education, it generates cash, we are competing yet I don’t believe we fully know how to.

We have several springboard ambassadors here at Linthwaite, one has contacted all the local schools to go in and present on hospitality and catering, yet only one has come back with a positive result; they do not want their kids in the industry, seen as low paid, unsociable, demeaning, low intelligence, subservient.

TV is helping a little with the exposure of cooking at a pro level – GB Menu, Masterchef, Saturday Kitchen – they only talk about cooking and food, rarely do hear/see the other virtues of the industry, whilst it brings glam, it needs to be more real, it’s tough and hard, yet truly rewarding and creative.



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