For decades, the UK hospitality industry has suffered problems with recruitment. It is the reason much of the industry became reliant on foreign workers, particularly EU nationals.
Coming from Sweden I have always found it strange that hospitality jobs are considered less attractive in the UK than other sectors.
If a graduate in Sweden has ambitions to build a career in hospitality, no-one questions why or considers them to be over-qualified. In most sectors you start off at the bottom and progress with hard work and experience.
Hospitality is no different, but many in the UK perceive it to be low-paid with few career prospects.
Throw into the mix a combination of Brexit and Covid-19 restrictions and the recruitment issue becomes critical.
Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, EU nationals made up around 30% of the hospitality workforce outside of London and 50% in the capital. It is anticipated that a quarter of those people will not return to the industry. Just at a time when the whole country is looking to hospitality to help revive our economy.
We carried out a survey shortly before the Covid restrictions were lifted and the results are striking. Almost 60% of respondents believed that there is a ‘stigma’ attached to working in hospitality and only 33% deemed the sector ‘very attractive’ to work in. Asked what would put them off these jobs: 48% said pay, 42% hours and 38% career prospects.
How to fix it?
Quite simply, we have a marketing problem. Addressing this is key and with so many looking to us to be a driving force in economic recovery, we are already in the spotlight. We can attract the support we need.
Education: The government’s investment in apprenticeships must be applauded but we should build on this momentum with grants. Nurses’ grants to attract more trainees in recent years is a great example. More vocational routes to fast-track people into hospitality roles would be ideal. Investment in skills and training will quickly pay back into the economy.
Immigration: Personal politics aside, we need a solution to allow EU and foreign workers to apply for jobs with peace of mind. We need clear, streamlined routes, so they know how to apply within the immigration rules.
Promotion: We need the sector and government bodies to work together. The marketing campaign to attract more people into teaching is a powerful example.
We are ambassadors for an overlooked industry that has so much to offer. Let’s shout about it. For the first time in a long time – people are listening.
A Swedish perspective on the perceived UK stigma of working in hospitality
By Jennifer Johansson, CEO, Placed App
I would like to thank Jennifer for taking time out from her busy schedule to write the article for H&C News, the discussions leading to the article, as well as insight to the data from the survey.
News from the hospitality and catering industry is also being featured extensively in our Facebook and twitter social media accounts with the opportunity to engage with others in hospitality and share your views.
Hospitality & Catering News: A Swedish perspective on the perceived UK stigma of working in hospitality. – 19 May 2021 – A Swedish perspective on the perceived UK stigma of working in hospitality.
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