Our call to industry to unite to promote hospitality to secondary school children across the UK

We are leading an industry alliance urging hospitality ambassadors to step forward and promote the industry to young people. The ‘Choose Hospitality Pledge’ has been created by Nestle Professional, Choose Hospitality, CareerScope, Springboard, and a growing number of hospitality and industry leaders. 

The Pledge was created following research by Nestle Professional revealing that young people have negative perceptions of the hospitality sector. To address this, the alliance is issuing a call for passionate people from the industry, keen to share their experiences and advice with young people in secondary schools across the UK.

More than 40% of hospitality businesses now face skilled worker shortages1, Over the next 5 years, the situation is expected to get worse, with experts forecasting a 13-14 million talent gap for positions suitable for hospitality graduates2. To understand why the hospitality sector is finding it particularly hard to recruit talent, we commissioned MMR Research to speak to young jobseekers, young hospitality professionals and industry influencers from across the UK.

The research, available in our new insight report, Opening Doors: Improving hospitality career perceptions among young people, reveals that, although some young job seekers are interested in the industry, they’re unaware of the breadth of roles and progression opportunities available. With exposure limited to less ‘skilled’ roles in hospitality, this could explain why many young people view it as a ‘back-up career’, with long hours and hard work. Furthermore, the research revealed that these perceptions are also the result of insufficient information and a lack of ambassadors to relate to. When it comes to advice, more than 1 in 4 young people ask people working in the industry, valuing their advice over that of their teacher or careers advisers. Fortunately, 62% of the young people working in hospitality say they love their role, indicating an untapped pool of potential ambassadors.

To address this, the Choose Hospitality Pledge, encouraging hospitality businesses and rising industry stars to put themselves forward as industry ambassadors. Hospitality leaders including Whitbread, Compass, Sodexo, Elior and PACE have already pledged support, plus industry organisations such as Bridging the Skills Gap and the Institute of Hospitality. These will be promoting the scheme and providing ambassadors to send out to schools in each region. Ambassadors will be given specially developed materials, speaking aids and opportunities at their local schools to help them engage youngsters and promote a career in the industry.

Katya Simmons, Nestle Pro Managing Director says:

“Hospitality businesses are more than twice as likely as other industries to experience challenges filling vacancies3. We were keen to understand why, in order to highlight ways in which our industry could come together to deal with these issues.”

“We learned that a lack of clear information and advice from key influencers has led to a serious image problem for the industry. Yet at the same time we have an untapped resource of bright, young individuals from within the industry who could be inspiring and educating young people on hospitality careers.

“Given the severity of current recruitment challenges, it’s important that we act now. The Choose Hospitality Pledge is all about inspiring the next generation of hospitality superstars. Helping us to get young people excited about our industry again, and showcasing hospitality as an incredibly rewarding career with a wide array of roles and progression opportunities.”

“Our hard-hitting team of ambassadors at Choose Hospitality do a fantastic job, inspiring young jobseekers to consider a career in the sector”
Claire Bosi Headshot
Claire Bosi
Choose Hospitality
“Forging industry and education links is one of the most effective ways to highlight the vibrant and diverse job roles in hospitality”
Amanda McDabe headshot
Amanda McDabe

Amanda McDade, Careerscope says:

“Forging industry and education links is one of the most effective ways to highlight the vibrant and diverse job roles in hospitality. There are plenty of inspiring industry ambassadors out there who are passionate about their job and the industry and keen to showcase these.

“Springboard’s Ambassador programme is already doing an amazing job, connecting industry ambassadors with young people. We’re looking forward to sending even more ambassadors out into schools through the Choose Hospitality Pledge. Because only through giving schoolchildren a solid understanding of hospitality at an early age can we start to nurture and inspire future industry talent.”

Claire Bosi, Choose Hospitality says:

“The UK’s hospitality sector is incredibly diverse and varied, making it one of the most exciting sectors to work in world-wide. Despite this, there’s still very low awareness around the roles available to young people, and the potential for them to progress fast. Our hard-hitting team of ambassadors at Choose Hospitality do a fantastic job, inspiring young jobseekers to consider a career in the sector. We’re looking forward to working with others in the alliance, taking inspiring ambassador out to schools, so they can start working their magic even earlier!”

Gemma Raby, Whitbread says:

“Young people have joined Whitbread, and no doubt countless other hospitality businesses, with no academic qualifications, and have gone on to have fantastic, fulfilling careers at a senior level. It’s a well-kept secret, but it shouldn’t be. 

“Hospitality isn’t about entry level, no skill or experience required roles, it’s a place where young people can start in these roles and quickly progress to senior level, be that running their own business, developing menus and food offerings or in finance, digital and tech or learning and development roles. 

“At Whitbread, we’re committed to being a Force for Good in the communities in which we operate. We were already taking action, promoting hospitality to local secondary schools before we heard about the Choose Hospitality Pledge. It is important that we share our stories to highlight to young people the amazing variety of careers that are available and just how accessible they are to all.”

Industry supporters of the Choose Hospitality Pledge are continuing to grow, and at the time of issuing this article, members include:

  • Nestlé Professional
  • Choose Hospitality
  • CareerScope
  • Springboard
  • Whitbread
  • Institute of Hospitality
  • Bridging the Skills Gap
  • Hoteliers Charter
  • Manchester Hotels Group
  • PACE
  • UK Hospitality
  • Royal Lancaster Hotel
  • The Lowry Hotel
  • The Torridon
  • HIT Training
  • Lifetime Training

To sign up to be a Choose Hospitality Pledge Ambassador click here