The national media should stop 'talking down' jobs in hospitality and start promoting the industry as a worthwhile career choice for job seekers to enable restaurants, hotels and pubs to fill vacant positions and retain staff.
That was the sentiment of panellists contributing to the discussion - How to Successfully Recruit: Top Tips on Attracting Talent - at The Restaurant Show at London's Earls Court 2 yesterday.
Gerry Brown, strategic manager at hospitality skills council People 1st, said recent reports of job seekers and graduates 'being forced to find a job behind a bar' because of job shortages in the current economic climate made the industry appear as if it was a last resort.
"I don't want to hear that kind of stuff from the media anymore and as an industry we need to address the image we've got.
"I think we need to say that we don't want people who think they'll 'get a job behind a bar', we want professionals who have chosen hospitality as a career."
TV programmes featuring aggressive chefs shouting at fellow members of staff were also blamed for putting hospitality in a negatve light.
Rachel Woolstone, HR director at ROKA and Zuma restaurants, said: "There are some positive images out there - Jamie Oliver has done a lot to raise the profile of the industry, but, not naming any names, there are some negative role models portrayed in the media who are known for shouting at staff and that in turn has a negative effect on the industry."
"I feel that Michel Roux's Service TV show did a lot to raise the profile of front of house," added Neil Leo, recruitment manager at Caprice Holdings: "We could do with more of that to show that service is not just about carrying plates."
Pay and prospects
Dawn Redman, managing director of the Retail Recruitment Company, also said it was a myth that jobs in hospitality were not well paid. "It does pay well, particularly compared with the retail sector," she said. "Restaurants, hotels and pubs get a bad press and we need to raise the perception of the industry outside it."
The panel, chaired by BigHospitality's executive director Elaine Marshall and which included Kirsty Lamond of Amadeus, also discussed immigration laws, methods of recruiting for staff and the effect of the 2012 Olympics on the hospitality industry.
To search for all the latest jobs in hospitality visit our sister site jobs.bighospitality.co.uk