Last week I read with interest a brief post by Gavin Smith, Managing Director at Pizza Pilgrims, on LinkedIn, on the importance of making hospitality attractive as job and offering decent wages and work conditions.
At Pizzaiolo Tribe we have been talking about this for a while, and we are not the only ones. The Caterer magazine pretty much features an article a week about this issue.
In reality, Covid-19 and Brexit have only exposed an issue that has been brewing for years. An industry with notorious levels of staff turnover, a chronic shortage of skilled staff and a poor reputation on hours and pay. The gap was often filled by EU youngsters happy to work in the UK to learn the language and trying new experiences.
As this is no longer possible, we are now facing a serious staff shortage.
Rising wages may convince the remaining staff to stay. They may even convince a few people to give hospitality a chance, but this won’t be enough.
According to The Independent, Dave Turnbull, Unite’s lead officer for hospitality, is quoted as saying the industry, broadly, is in “complete denial” about how disillusioned staff are. A June 2020 Unite survey found 52% of chefs regard the job negatively. Only 22% would recommend it to school-leavers.
Most employers have been listening to what workers are demanding (starting with a higher pay and better work-life balance), looked at their culture and made changes. It’s not unusual now for companies to offer a mental health hotline, flexible hours or fund training even if it’s not work related.
But will this be enough?
Probably not. Most British citizen just do not consider a career in hospitality a desirable one. More must be done to attract young talent. We need to give them opportunities to work or experience life in a pizzeria and hope that will sow a seed, that some of them will find the industry captivating and pursue it as job.
We need schools to step up their game.
UKHospitality has released a 12 points action plan. (https://cdn.ymaws.com/www.ukhospitality.org.uk/resource/resmgr/custompages/hospitality_employment/ukh_employment_12_point_plan.pdf) that in my opinion is just too abstract and relies too much on the government to take action (such as relaxing visa rules), when so far all the signals have been pretty clear: train the British work force instead!
As a sector we need to take this upon ourselves. Waiting for the government to act is not an option. We need some public figures and ambassadors to tell the world how exciting it is to work as a pizza chef , about the opportunities, quick career progression and now good pay. We need to be featured in papers and magazines, to post on LinkedIn, to create apprenticeships and academies, to offer 1-day taster sessions.
So far all my calls have felt on deaf ears. I never received a reply from Springboard, Savoy Educational Trust or UKHospitality . So who is up for it?
Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash