Recruit from within UK, industry leaders tell MCA conference

By Georgina Townshend

- Last updated on GMT

Hire from UK: Panel discuss recruitment at MCA pub conference
Hire from UK: Panel discuss recruitment at MCA pub conference

Related tags Chief executive United kingdom European union

With Brexit talks underway and the potential for tighter immigration limits on the horizon, a panel of industry leaders emphasised the importance of recruiting more people from the UK.

Speaking at the MCA Managed Pub Conference yesterday (20 June), the panel also said that investing in staff training was key for retention and that more needed to be done to change perceptions that the industry is not a good career choice.

Hire from the UK

Brigid Simmonds, chief executive of the British Beer and Pub Association, said its time to start recruiting more from the UK as there is uncertainty about how strict the Government curbs on EU immigration will be after Brexit.

“We all have to play our part in recruiting people in the UK, from going to colleges, creating more apprenticeships, we need to do our part,” she said.

Kate Nicholls chief executive of the Association of Multiple Licensed Retailers (ALMR), agreed, and said a lot of work is being done behind the scenes to “improve perceptions” of jobs in the hospitality sector. “There is a long way to go, we are quite fragmented,” she said.

“We are coming together to put a coherent message to the Government and schools about the career and qualification structures we have got.”

She added that the sector needed to be more on the “front foot” of attracting more UK workers. 

However, Peter Borg Neal, founder and chief executive of Oakman Inns and Restaurant, said he believed the Government would not stop EU immigration, as the economy would become “dysfunctional”. He praised Fuller’s for helping around 200 of its staff from the EU to apply for permanent UK residency.

Borg Neal said: “I think we need more certainty. Fullers showed a great lead to protect EU workers, and we have followed suit. In the end I think the Government will have to see sense, because they have no options.”

Make your mum proud

Chris Hill, chief executive of the New World Trading Company, said the hospitality sector needs to provide staff with a “banner to stand behind – giving them something they are proud to do”.

He said: “Make sure you give them a job they enjoy, and pay them properly to do it.”

Simmonds said that the hospitality industry had always faced the “mum effect” – where parents weren’t too pleased about their children going into the hospitality business.

“I think a lot of that has changed, because some of the companies here are doing much more to help attract people to work in our industry, and they are doing things to maintain them,” she said.

“I think the perception is changing, because we now offer careers which require a degree level, and that has to be the way forward.”

Importance of training

Hill said there was currently a “huge difference” in the spectrum of how the hospitality trade approached training their staff.

“Some companies invest heavily in training, and that has a huge effect in the local community, he said.

“People are complaining that the minimum wage is going up, but then go on to complain that parents don’t see it as a good job for people to go into.”

Hill said training staff means they will have a valuable set of skills and knowledge that will stand them in good stead in their ongoing career.

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