Carving out lifelong careers in hospitality

With cooking hot on the heels of comedy as the new rock ’n’ roll, catering is not short of raw recruits – but retaining staff remains an issue. So how can hospitality employers hang on to their rising stars?

So what’s cooking?

Things are heating up in the hospitality sector with a growing number of young people looking to carve out a career in the industry. Celebrity chefs like Jamie Oliver, Gordon Ramsay and baker Paul Hollywood have all done their bit to highlight how exciting the sector can be, while the ongoing foodie movement has got more people interested in cooking and restaurant culture.

A recent survey by industry development charity Springboard showed that 53% of school leavers questioned in the last year would consider a career in the hospitality industry, double the number who were open to it when the same survey was conducted in 2005.

A report by People 1st and highlighted that an average of 19 people apply for each position within the sector.

A career for life?

But while careers in hospitality may be popular, statistics show they are all too often short-lived, with the industry having a particularly high staff turnover rate. Many people see roles as temporary rather than a permanent career choice and figures from People 1st show that almost half of the hospitality and tourism workforce is part-time.

High staff turnover rates, which see the hospitality industry losing around 23% of its workforce every year, mean businesses are leaving themselves open to skills gaps in the future, something which could pose a considerable problem given that staff are often hospitality companies’ most important assets.

Ian Burke, director at, said employers need to work on staff retention if they are to ensure the sustainability of their business.

“Labour turnover can have a great impact on productivity, and has been a longstanding issue for hospitality employers. Although there is a clear interest in jobs in our sector, we are still failing to sell the benefits of the long-term career opportunities available within it. This needs to change if we want to ensure our businesses continue to remain competitive.”

Attraction and retention

So how can hospitality businesses ensure they attract and retain staff who want to carve out a long and successful career?

Apprenticeships could be the answer.

They allow staff to obtain recognisable qualifications while getting valuable workplace experience, building up an understanding of the industry which makes it easier to see where career prospects lie and how to move up the ladder.

Data from People 1st shows that 80% of hospitality employers feel that Apprenticeships reduce staff turnover, while 83% of employers rely on Apprenticeship programmes to provide the skilled workers they need for the future, with over half saying a high proportion of apprentices go on to management positions.

Phil Howard, Head of Sales -North said: “We recognise the vital importance of training in the hospitality sector and know this is key for businesses in terms of staff retention.

We recently attended the Restaurant Show and met so many companies who are now seeing the benefits of our Apprenticeships and business training solutions and what they can bring to their skills base and company growth.”

One company which has also seen the benefits of hospitality Apprenticeships first-hand is Costa Coffee, which has seen a number of its staff promoted to assistant manager level after undergoing training with us here at learndirect.

Rachael Dixon, store manager at the Stratford branch, said: “The main benefit of the Apprenticeship programme for us is succession planning. It means we can keep talent in the company and help them progress. Two of the apprentices we’ve had this year have progressed from Barista Maestros to assistant managers.  I’d definitely recommend Apprenticeships to other businesses. They give staff direction, help them knuckle down and it’s made things in the store run much smoother and more efficiently.”

Added ingredients

And better staff retention is not the only benefit Apprenticeships can bring. Research shows they also:

–      Improve employee motivation. Populus research shows that 88% of employers believe Apprenticeships lead to a more motivated and satisfied workforce.

–      Keep costs down. Apprentices often cost little to hire as there is government funding available. The average Apprenticeship also makes money for companies by increasing business productivity by £214 per week, according to the National Apprenticeship Service (NAS).

–      Boost productivity. Data from NAS shows 72% of businesses report improved productivity as a result of employing an apprentice.

–      Enhance companies’ reputations. A People 1st survey highlighted that 81% of hospitality customers favour using a company which takes on apprentices.

So what’s available?

At learndirect we offer a range of hospitality and catering qualifications. Not only are we working with the BII (British Institute of Innkeeping) on licensed hospitality qualifications, but with everything from food and drink service, and kitchen services, to professional cookery and supervision and leadership, we’re here to provide a viable progression route from front of house through to back of house, management and beyond.

We also offer a selection of online eCourses specialising in customer service, and health and safety at work.

To find out more, call us on 0800 101 901 or request our information pack.