With National Apprenticeship Week taking place this month (March 5-9), Jill Whittaker, managing director of HIT Training – the UK’s expert hospitality training provider – talks about the steps businesses can take to help change perceptions of the industry and engage the younger generation to take up a career in hospitality…

According to recent research by Best Western’s Career Index, just 17% of parents view a career in a hotel or restaurant in a positive light and a further 31% would actively discourage their children from taking up a career in hospitality. If we are going to attract the younger generation, we’ll need to convince them that the hospitality industry is a vibrant and rewarding career path. Fortunately, there are a number of steps businesses can take to encourage school leavers to work within the sector.

Changing negative perceptions First things first, operators need to address the outdated perceptions around working conditions and long hours, which just aren’t true anymore. Showcasing the opportunities to progress up the career ladder will go a long way to attracting more people to a career in hospitality. After all, there aren’t many other sectors I know of that offer the chance to be in a supervisory role when you’re 19 or 20. We also need to work together to dispel candidates’ view of the industry as a stop-gap or short-term career option. This is where providing relevant and engaging apprenticeship programmes can play a significant role, as they offer employees long-term career goals, provide a clear path of progression and demonstrate a company’s investment in its employees. The benefits of this speak for themselves, with one in three apprentices receiving a promotion within a year of completing their training.

Innovative employment packages Creating attractive and innovative employment packages largely means looking at and adapting employee benefits and development opportunities. It’s about addressing the work/life balance and fitting in with the key attributes today’s workforce look for in an employer – such as flexibility, strong corporate social responsibility credentials and the chance to contribute to society. These wheels are now in motion with many businesses offering four-day contracts and tailored learning and development programmes, but there is still more work to be done.

Engage and encourage The onus is on us to position the hospitality sector as a prosperous career option for the younger generation. Whether this connection starts with restaurant and hotel professionals visiting their local schools to talk about what they do or holding work experience for pupils to find out more about the realities of work – we need to invest time and resources in reaching and engaging this age group. By implementing a variety of development programmes, training structures and engagement strategies, operators can set a solid foundation to entice future employees. This will not only enable businesses to address current and future resourcing issues but will result in a more passionate, brighter and skilled workforce of the future.

For more information on HIT Training and the apprenticeships and training courses it provides, please visit: https://hittraining.co.uk/

Top tips on recruiting apprentices:

  • Build close relationships with local schools and colleges
  • Exhibit at careers events and exhibitions to promote your apprenticeship programme
  • Carry out assessment days and further interviews to make sure you’re hiring the most committed team members
  • Ensure the application process is as simple as possible
  • Advertise on national careers websites and industry jobs boards
  • Hire candidates who are passionate, enthusiastic and above all prepared to learn
  • Work with a training provider who can provide recruitment support, assisting with advertising and marketing campaigns
  • Host work experience weeks and open days