From the C-suite: Investing in the next generation of hospitality leaders

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The hospitality sector must continue to incentivise, train and nurture both young talent and existing staff

The hospitality sector is one of the UK’s largest industries and directly employs 4.49 million people, with the first half of 2017 welcoming a record 19.1 million visitors – 9% more than in 2016, according to the ONS. In fact over the last 12 months to June 2017, there were 39.1 million visits to the UK – the best ever rolling 12 month period for the sector.

Records were broken again, with inbound visitors spending £10.6 billion in the first half of this year – 11% more than the first half of 2016 and the first time inbound visitor spending has topped £10 billion in the first six months of any year.

As the industry continues to thrive, we need to continue to incentivise, train and nurture both young talent and existing hospitality staff, and highlight the numerous advantages that come from a career in the sector.

To support the continued evolution in the sector, Jurys Inn conducted research as part of its annual Driving UK Tourism report, which identified fresh opportunities for the UK to lead the way in creating a new service culture in hospitality.

Our research found that over half (53%) of the leading industry figures surveyed believed that 'outdated perceptions' were preventing people in the UK from viewing hospitality as a worthwhile career, despite the fact that it is one of the UK’s largest industries. As the sector goes from strength to strength, the consensus among our experts was that more needs to be done to inspire and attract new talent.

The UK currently struggles to compete with hospitality schools on the continent, for example, where careers in the industry are seen as an attractive option. UK event management and tourism degrees are more popular than hospitality courses at present, and our survey suggested that reframing the benefits of hospitality training, as well as increased marketing of the sector as a whole, could resolve this imbalance. Other suggestions include increasing language training, taking better care of staff and steering attention towards the higher end of the industry.

Our survey also cited a greater need for more structured career paths in the hospitality industry. This could include a greater emphasis on the ‘craft skills’ of the sector rather than just the theoretical management of hospitality.

For example, we run a graduate programme at Jurys Inn called GROW that gives young people the opportunity to get hands-on experience in the industry, across a range of hotels and areas of expertise.

Apprenticeships were another suggested route that the industry could take to better build its appeal as an attractive career option. Jurys Inn’s ‘Insights’ trainee management programme has successfully helped expand the horizons of promising talent. The programme helps those who show promise in the early stages of their careers get the qualifications and mentorship needed to take their first steps into management positions.

Through programmes like this, young people are able to gain the confidence to build a career in hospitality and learn how to inspire others to achieve new levels of excellence. Programmes like Insights and GROW are not only inspiring the next generation of hospitality leaders but have enabled us to recruit 80% of senior Jurys Inn hotel roles from within the company.

The hospitality sector is breaking records because it is investing more to bring the history and culture of the UK to life while promoting the vast array of regional experiences on offer. The explosive growth of tourism is a key opportunity for the UK, allowing it to capitalise on its rich regional culture and strong culinary reputation to drive staycations and inbound tourism.

However, to ensure this growth is sustainable long into the future, we must redefine the UK’s service culture by improving employer-led training. We must increase collaboration and make a consolidated effort to apply unified strategies to highlight the career opportunities. And we must continue to make positive progress on industry diversity and increase internal training programmes to promote the next generation of hospitality leaders.

Because without our people, we are not an industry.

Jason Carruthers is managing director of Jurys Inn Group

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