Encouraging Youth Employment in the Hospitality Industry

Thursday, August 4, 2022

Industry leaders agree hospitality careers must be recognised as an opportunity by the younger generations, and need to become more appealing to bring more youth into the hospitality industry. Employers want to attract young talent, and agree that the hospitality industry needs an image change, from unskilled ‘back-up’ career, to skilled flexible vocation.

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Why the Hospitality industry needs better youth employment opportunities

Industry leaders agree hospitality careers must be recognised as an opportunity by the younger generations, and need to become more appealing to bring more youth into the hospitality industry. Employers want to attract young talent, and agree that the hospitality industry needs an image change, from unskilled ‘back-up’ career, to skilled flexible vocation. 

In a recent podcast on youth employment, we have selected four industry experts from every corner of the hospitality industry, to give us their opinion on why the industry needs to create better youth employment opportunities. They offer insights as to how the industry can move towards creating better opportunities for the younger generations.  

Paving the way for hospitality careers for the younger generations

Last week, hospitality representatives from education, charity and industry came together to discuss the sector staffing crisis at Footprint Sustainability Symposium: The Future of Talent in association with us. 

Sharing personal experiences, attendees agreed that hospitality is currently misrepresented as unskilled or a ‘back-up career’ for young people, and that the industry should rethink its approach and messaging to appeal to these. They also talked about what is and isn’t working, highlighting solutions for attracting young talent. Released today as a podcast, the discussion provides a powerful overview of the key issues, with fresh market insight, diverse viewpoints, and ideas for the industry moving forwards, as well as how the industry can move towards better youth employment. 

The hospitality industry is in the midst of a staffing crisis, which has worsened over the last few years as a result of Brexit and Covid. One in 8 food sector roles is vacant1, representing half a million out of 4.1 million workers. This is leading to foodservice businesses cutting operating hours, reducing menu options and in some cases, closing down outlets. 

To discuss the challenges of youth employment in the industry, and highlight how employers, government, charities and education should be addressing them., Footprint’s Sustainability Symposium, brought together stakeholders from across the industry: Amanda McDade, National Heads of Careers Education at Springboard, John Holden, Chair and Founder of Bridging the Skills Gap, our Head of B2B Marketing, Julia Jones and Sophie Taylor, Chef de Partie, Gleneagles Townhouse and 2021 Toque d’Or winner FOH student. 

In the podcast they share exclusive findings from our new research on attracting industry talent, symposium members discussed how the industry should be promoting itself, as well as its youth employment opportunities, and how these jobs need to adapt in order to attract young talent. All agreed that competitions like Toque d’Or and Future Chef are making a big impact on both employee skills and confidence. Attendees also discussed the importance of having a sustainability mindset – both for businesses attracting new recruits, and fresh talent trying to break in to the industry.  

By showcasing the endless opportunities that are available through hospitality careers will encourage and inspire the growth of youth in hospitality.   

Find out what our industry professionals have to say

Julia Jones, Head of B2B Marketing

“Our research highlighted the top barriers to a career in hospitality, and revealed that awareness of the opportunities is low – not just among young people, but also key influencers like parents, teachers and careers advisors. Food and beverage have been neglected on the curriculum for a long time, so the understanding is also not there. If we’re not inspiring people from a young age, how are we going to get passion and drive from our new recruits?” 

“We also discovered that just over 60% of young people in hospitality love it, nearly 35% say it's okay, and 4% are not enjoying it, so there's clearly room for improvement. If we want those to convince their peers and parents, we need to address these barriers and talk about the positive things about the industry, while at the same time being realistic about where things need to change.” 

Amanda McDade, National Heads of Careers Education at Springboard

“There seems to be a real disconnect between a young person's perception of hospitality and the exciting reality of a career within hospitality. Young people don't understand the real breadth of the exciting career options they can have, as well as the kind of fast progression that they can make within the industry. We need to be getting that information across – getting people in the industry who are excited about their career.” 

“There's definitely a need to get support behind the hospitality industry in general, but also the education system that sits behind it. Cutting out things like the A-level qualification, school's not receiving enough support, and home economics departments closing down within schools is just adding to the problem. We really need something to change in the government's thinking about hospitality; the importance it has to the UK economy, and how we make it sustainable in the future.” 

John Holden, Char and Founder of Bridging the Skills Gap 

“Linking with the teachers in the schools is essential. I set up a whole portfolio when I was at Tameside, along with the Food Teachers Association, and linked with so many school teachers that we had schools coming into the restaurant and people saying, I didn't realise it was going to be like this - isn't this great? Again, I think this is a miscommunication with the school and also the parents.” 

Sophie Taylor, Toque d’Or 20221 FOH Student Winner  

“A lot of people in my age group at high school still didn't know what they wanted to do. And it was very much, ‘you must go to university’, ‘you must do a job’, and if you brought anything that was like performing arts or in hospitality or being a chef or waiting, they're like, ‘oh, well, that's not a real job’.  

You don't necessarily have to be cooking in a kitchen or serving the food or shaking a cocktail. There's media now, there's social platforms, there's so much to do with a career in hospitality. Breaking that boundary will make sure that this industry becomes more successful.” 

Summarising the value of a career in the sector, she adds, 

“Hospitality is not a backup career: it can be a first-time choice. There are so many options, you just have to go for it. Just jump and trust your heart and you will not be disappointed.” 

To learn more about the youth in hospitality, or just to learn more about the opportunities, have a listen to the Nestlé Professional youth employment podcast. The podcast will be released online today, and can be downloaded or streamed online.