The hospitality sector is the UK’s fourth largest sector, but according to leading hospitality bosses who are calling for the government to develop a post-Brexit industrial strategy, it is being ignored. The reason? Work in hotels and restaurants are not seen as “real jobs”.
John Bennett, Co-CEO of leading hospitality and catering business, BaxterStorey says:
“It is the fourth biggest sector in the UK but doesn’t seem to be high up in the Government’s priorities. It doesn’t appear to be part of any industrial strategy. In the past 20 years there has been a huge explosion in the amount of restaurants and in the public's point of view in terms of eating out - but they don't see it as an important career.”
Chef John Campbell, founder of the Woodspeen restaurants agrees, saying the Government should “get a move on”:
“Brexit's going to be a big opportunity for us, certainly in London where we have all that new talent coming in. But the bigger ticket item here is how much hospitality and leisure contributes to the economy - it's huge. Because it sits in the background, maybe it isn't taken as seriously but the Government needs to take action on this straight away.”
Mr Campbell, who also runs a chef academy, said scores of students come from continental Europe as they admire Britain’s hotels and restaurants - but people from the UK do not see it as a “proper” career.
“My father moved to Germany, and before that, when I was about 13 or 14, he was shocked I wanted to be a chef. At that point his words were ‘don't cook son, do something proper.’ When he moved to the continent, he had a new-found respect for the industry. The status of high profile chefs in the continent is like judges or politicians, it's a definitely top tier career There's a huge contrast, we have an upstairs downstairs approach, a Victorian approach we need to get rid of.”
Why is this? Hoteliers and restaurateurs complain (with good reason) that homegrown staff can be hard to come by. Largely this is because the sector is not seen as an attractive career to many, with some turing their noses up at the thought of serving the public. Yet, there is nothing menial about providing a professional service, it should be something to be proud of.
While TV programmes such as the Great British Bake Off and MasterChef have inspired many younger people to become chefs, the same cannot be said for the equally important front-of-house jobs. In Europe, hotel and restaurant work is rightly seen as a career in itself, so why not in this country?
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