By Angela Green
A practical event has taken a significant step towards dispelling the myth that the hospitality sector only offers ‘stop gap’ jobs for people to earn money while considering their long-term careers.
Around 70 people attended a ‘Have a Go at Hospitality’ event organised by Bristol Hoteliers Association (BHA), and got to try their hand at a number of typical hotel roles, including bed making, napkin folding, table setting and mocktail making.
GCSE students, people who have been out of work and those being helped by Seetec to get back into work, attended the DoubleTree by Hilton Bristol City Centre to get a glimpse of the many opportunities the hospitality sector offers.
A combination of the impact of Brexit and the pandemic has seen the sector suffer from a significant staff shortage in recent years and the BHA has been keen to do what it can to boost recruitment.
Alison Mansfield, who organised the event on behalf of the BHA, said: “Everyone loved the mocktail making stand, which Mollies Diner hosted, and we also had quite a few people who were interested in looking at cheffing and events work.
“British Aerospace from Filton attended and have organised 10 job interviews as a result of our event, for positions in their café and function space.
“Many of the people I spoke to considered hospitality as a place to just earn money, rather than a long-term career option. I spoke to a few people about how they could further education while working full-time, and how hospitality supports that.
“Most of the hotels in the city pay into the Apprentice levy, so it’s worth our while to offer apprenticeships to people, in hand with employment.
“Another person I spoke to was fascinated with how you could move around a hotel in different roles, such as starting as a chef and ending up in HR.”
She added: “After speaking to us, many attendees realised that there was a lot more to hospitality than they had thought. You can have a career and an education.
“I spoke to some parents who came with their daughter who was trying to decide between hairdressing and hospitality, and they loved how diverse hotels are and how much there is to learn.
“Their daughter got to try out some jobs as well as having a full showaround, back and front of house, and is definitely converted to a hotelier now.”
Alison said the success of the Have A Go At Hospitality session earlier this month has inspired them to look at making it an annual event, which could play a major part in tackling the current staff shortage. She said: “For me, it’s all about changing people’s perceptions of hotels.
“We are no longer an industry where split shifts are the norm, with long hours and bad pay. We are one of the most diverse and inclusive industries in the world.
“You can build a career and there is so much more than just a ‘bar job’; our challenge is getting that message across to people who don’t know the industry or who used to work in it many years ago.”
Raphael Herzog, BHA chair, said: “It was very encouraging to see so many people turn up and take part in these taster sessions with such enthusiasm and interest.
“Hospitality is such a diverse sector which offers many opportunities to make careers for life in everything from maintenance and grounds work to various spa services, from accounts and IT to marketing.
“A top priority for the BHA at present is to promote hospitality as a rewarding and satisfying career choice and hopefully this event has inspired people and opened their eyes to the tremendous potential awaiting them.”
To find out more about the Bristol Hoteliers Association, visit here.