The Hospitality Sector Needs People

Posted on Analysis Aug 2008 - by Tandoori Magazine
The Hospitality Sector Needs People

Suzanne Chilvers, National Careers Manager, Springboard Charitable Trust and Springboard UK, tells Tandoori how Springboard can assist when it comes to entering the hospitality sector.

Hospitality is part of everyone’s life – every day- whether it’s buying a quick bite to eat at lunch or lingering over a coffee at the end of dinner. Hospitality caters to the local dining out market and the tourism market. People 1st, the Sector Skills Council for Hospitality, Leisure, Travel and Tourism, reported that in 2006 Hospitality, Leisure, Travel & Tourism employed nearly two million people in the UK alone. No wonder it’s the world’s biggest industry - and growing.

Springboard Charitable Trust, celebrating its eighteenth birthday in 2008, was established to promote the Hospitality, Leisure, Travel and Tourism sector as a first choice careers option. We do this through a number of innovative activities designed to bring industry, education and career influencers together. Eighteen years ago the industry was growing and great opportunities were there for the taking. Now, eighteen years later, the job market is still bulging with opportunities and challenges and Springboard is still working to educate people about career and job opportunities to meet the industry’s staffing needs.

The largest industry within the sector, in terms of employment and number of establishments, is the restaurant industry. The restaurant industry employs over half a million people. Over a third of the workforce is under twenty five and thirteen percent class themselves as Asian or Asian British. According to the Times database - BBC, there are 9,000 curry houses in the UK, employing 50,000 people with the majority being Bangladeshi owned.

However, there are big challenges ahead for Asian Restaurateurs. Not only due to the significant increase in raw food costs such as oil and rice, but also the severe skills shortages affecting the waiting on and chefing professions. Many restaurateurs feel that passing the increase in basic food costs onto the consumer is not acceptable and therefore reductions are made elsewhere, workforce and wages for example.

The government’s new restrictions on immigration, modelled on that of our Australian cousin’s points-based system, require job seekers to be conversant in the English language. This has had a direct effect on the recruitment of Bangladeshi immigrants as chefs or kitchen porters. Bangladeshi restaurants require skilled chefs fluent in their native cuisine but as English is not even a second or third language for the majority of the Bangladeshi population, skilled chefs wishing to enter the UK labour market do not meet the strict English language requirements.

“This labour and skills shortage is a huge concern for the Asian Restaurant Market,” says Cyrus Todiwala, MBE, of Café Spice Namaste, passionate industry ambassador and committed supporter of Springboard aims. “The existing UK chefing qualifications do not meet the industry’s culinary skill needs so what can restaurateurs do? Immigration rules prevent employers from sourcing labour from overseas but they are unable to recruit suitably trained British staff. With customers demanding higher standards year on year, the Asian restaurant market needs to meet these challenges with a better skilled workforce.”

Like every other industry, the political and economic environment in which hospitality operates, has a significant effect on all aspects of its business. This is not a new phenomenon as the UK saw domestic tourism figures drop during the heightened terrorism threats and rural tourism decline during the summer of Foot and Mouth. Whilst Springboard Charitable Trust, industry associations like the BHA, tourist boards and sector skills councils work hard to research, highlight key current issues and seek solutions, individual restaurants will be adopting their own methods of survival, be that creating skills academies with local colleges, offering greater pay or benefits or possibly ethnic culinary skills training from within.

One key message that we must continue to send out is that hospitality needs people. We have a huge chef shortage across the ethnic and non ethnic restaurant sector. Springboard seeks to promote these roles and the skills needed to job seekers and future job seekers. We have an excellent nationwide culinary competition, Futurechef; helping young people aged 12-16 to learn to cook.  It also provides a unique insight into the world of professional cooking by capturing imagination, recognising talent and providing a potential platform to launch a fabulous career.  This year also saw Springboard launch a new dedicated careers advice and guidance service for the industry, ‘Springboard CareerScope’.

For further information on Springboard activities or to access free impartial information, advice and guidance please call 0845 293 2515 or email

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