Changes needed to improve pub careers says BBPA

By Fred A'Court

- Last updated on GMT

Industry issue: pub chefs were one example the BBPA gave when it mentioned workers needed as much experience as they do qualifications
Industry issue: pub chefs were one example the BBPA gave when it mentioned workers needed as much experience as they do qualifications
A range of initiatives that the industry and Government can undertake to secure jobs and careers in the hospitality sector has been suggested by the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA).

In a written submission to the UK Hospitality Commission 2030, the BBPA says there is a need for a central source of information about careers in the pub and wider hospitality industry, promotion of the hospitality and tourism sectors as places to work, and a more informed National Careers Service to better help school and university leavers, along with work returners, find jobs.

The submission goes on to detail suggested improvements in education and skills in the sector, and diversity in the workforce.

A number of reviews and revisions of present industry standards, rules and laws were suggested.

The Commission, organised by UKHospitality, aims to promote a better understanding of the importance and potential of the UK’s hospitality sector.

It brings together a wide range of employers and All-Party Parliamentary Groups, along with other stakeholders, industry bodies and authorities, to deliver an employment foundation for the sector. Its findings will go to the Government.

The BBPA’s written submission came as the commission held its first session taking oral evidence.

Tourism is now recognised in the Government’s Modern Industrial Strategy under a so-called sector deal, and in its submission the BBPA says it should include a key strand on skills. Its call for a central information source must include relevant school qualifications, entry points for older workers and ways to progress careers.

On improving hospitality as a long-term career choice rather than a transitory one, the BBPA advocates case studies ‘to bring our industry alive as an enjoyable and fulfilling place to work’.

Opportunities for both full- and part-time work must be clearly signposted.

A co-ordinated and comprehensive recruitment and retention campaign is needed. It should expand the Hospitality Works employment initiative, while other initiatives, such as use of mentors and ambassadors, are needed, the BBPA says.

In a strongly worded claim, the BBPA added: "We need a greater acknowledgement from Government of the importance of our sector to the UK economy and employment. This is not about unskilled work, but about soft skills. There is often too much emphasis on high-tech or specific manufacturing skills. All are important, but one size does not fit all. 

Overseas workers

It added: "Pub chefs, for example, need as much experience as they do qualifications to progress in their chosen career. This needs to be acknowledged and this shortage occupation prioritised through cross-Government policies."

Huge improvements will come with the supply of good information, the BBPA says, but at the moment there is little information at national level about work opportunities for school leavers, university graduates or returners.

The submission illustrated the importance of overseas workers to the sector and what it says is the significant challenge to recruitment that Brexit poses by stating that within the BBPA membership, 17% of employees are from abroad, of which 14% are from the EU. This rises to 80% in some metropolitan areas and in some jobs such as kitchen staff.

To deal with the challenge, revision of the migration rules and the ‘tier’ system is needed. Proposed qualifications and a salary cap for chefs will not work under the present tier system, the BBPA insisted.

‘The Youth Mobility Scheme, which currently allows young people under the age of 30 to work in the UK for a maximum of two years from certain Commonwealth countries, needs to be expanded to countries in the EU, or preferably adopted by the EU itself’.’ 

The apprenticeship levy and training issues also come under the microscope in the submission. It recommends that the levy is reviewed to lessen bureaucracy for companies wishing to partner with training providers, and to provide new standards for employers who want to offer their own training. 

A swipe was taken at the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills (Ofstead): "The approach of Ofsted to companies that wish to register themselves as training providers, and which seems to treat them as if they are schools, has been judged as too harsh for companies to consider as suitable solutions, even if they have the quality and size to provide this service."

The BBPA also wants an increase in the use of funds available for the supply chain. ‘This has been set at 10% in 2018. A specific exception should be provided for leased and tenanted pub companies who cannot currently use their apprenticeship levy funding to support leased and tenanted pubs that they own, because they do not employ the staff directly.’

It goes on to call for an early review of the costs of training apprentices that the levy can be used for, and the potential barriers it poses to greater take up.

A further review suggested is of the requirement of pubs to pay 10% of the costs of an apprentice, on top of the set-up costs. The BBPA says this is a real disincentive to train or employ an apprentice.

On helping job seekers who are harder to place, the BBPA says that it is vital that a third party introduces and trains such employees before they join a company.  

SpringBoard works in this area and there is scope for such work to be expanded. Pre-employment screening can help smaller pub businesses in particular.


Mobility and retention of staff are two key concerns for the wider industry, an HR leader told the commission in its first session taking oral evidence.

The session focused on recruitment and retention in the hospitality industry and heard from Tom Hadley from the Recruitment & Employment Confederation, Jo Childs from Yo! Sushi, Alison Gilbert from CH&Co and Pauline Chidgey from Stonegate Pub Company. 

Speakers and politicians discussed issues including stigma, the Apprenticeship Levy and the need for a balanced evidence-based immigration system.

A number of speakers highlighted their disappointment that the catering and hospitality T level will not be introduced until 2022 and called on the Government to bring it forward.

There was also discussion about the benefits of using real-life stories to engage potential employers and the need for national campaigns to increase the visibility, awareness and potential of the industry. 

UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “The UK’s hospitality sector is a dynamic and resourceful one, but it still faces barriers to growth, particularly regarding employment. The commission will establish a comprehensive picture of the opportunities facing the sector and allow us to challenge perceptions and promote and enhance the work hospitality businesses already do.”

Co-chair of the first evidence session, and chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Beer, Mike Wood said: “The ability to attract and retain staff came across as two immediate issues for the industry. 

“We need to make sure that employees who are looking to develop a career in hospitality are aware of the opportunities on offer and the potential future career pathways available to them. 

“I’m looking forward to hearing more views and working with my colleagues and UKHospitality to develop tangible asks for both industry and Government.”

The second session on 12 June will focus on diversity within the workforce and will be co-chaired by Liz Saville Roberts, vice-chair of the APPG for Tourism & Hospitality Industry in Wales and Michael Tomlinson, chair of the APPG on Youth Employment.

Tomlinson said “I’m looking forward to co-chairing the second session on the diversity of the workforce, which will help identify how we can offer further support and career opportunities for all those working in the hospitality sector.”

A written call for evidence and staff questionnaires are currently open to the public and close on Friday 25 May.  

  • Looking for a career in hospitality? Check out The Morning Advertiser​'s job site here.

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