The panel, focused on delivering the future skills the sector needs, took place at the UKHospitality Workforce and Skills Event on Wednesday 1 March.
Azzurri Group chief executive Steve Holmes, Stonegate director of learning and organisation development Lee Woolley, Springboard UK chief executive Chris Gamm and HIT Training licensed trade director Jeremy Scorer sat on the panel. It was chaired by Fleet Street Communications head of content Robyn Black.
Holmes stressed that it was vital for people in hospitality to talk about the industry positively if they wanted people to see it positively.
“Our job is to make people happy,” he added, calling hospitality the original hospitable sector by its nature.
Fun and flexibility
He believed hospitality to be an innately supportive and flexible employer, and so the sector should champion the fact many want to join the industry for its flexibility.
Woolley made the point that people came to work for Stonegate’s bars, pubs and clubs as they enjoyed having a good time, on and off the clock, which was a point the sector could capitalise on.
Stonegate was working to improve the mental, physical and financial wellbeing of employees through engaging with the Burnt Chef project and had also implemented a programme building resilience. The aim was to give staff the tools to help themselves.
According to Scorer, the industry needed simplification so staff could see clear career progression. People needed to see what routes they could take, and what opportunities were aligned with that route.
Holmes was frustrated as he believed skills and courses had not been adapted in decades to reflect the modernity of the industry. Jobs in hospitality could be “incredibly fulfilling and enriching as well as professionally challenging,” he added.
The biggest issue, for Holmes, was the narrative around the sector. He asked, how come hospitality, as the UK’s third biggest employer, couldn’t get space in schools and universities?
Woolley pointed out that young people could quickly rise to senior management positions in hospitality, setting it apart from other industries.
“We haven’t got a recruitment problem, we’ve got a retention problem,” he added. Stonegate’s training programmes worked towards training staff.