According to advice portal Graduate Prospects, students and graduates viewing hospitality, tourism and sport careers information on its website, www.prospects.ac.uk, soared by 180 per cent in January 2011 compared to the same month in the previous year.
The leap in popularity for careers in the industry made it the most popular sector with jobseekers for the month, outshining marketing, advertising and PR, health and social care and environment and conservation, which saw a 126 per cent, 125 per cent and 124 per cent year-on-year increase respectively.
The job-hunting season usually peaks in the summer as graduates begin to search for their first jobs, but such a high result in January has been deemed “unusual” by Graduate Prospects.
The power of television
Charlie Ball, deputy director of research at the company, suggested that while there was no hard evidence to explain the trend, the airing of Michel Roux’s Service on BBC2 in January could have inspired graduates and students to think about adopting a career in the industry.
“We know that occasionally media gathers momentum and starts to influence people's career choices. In the 80s we saw a prolonged period of people going into veterinary as a result of All Creatures Great and Small, and the popularity of Cracker in the 90s saw an interest in psychology as a profession. We know media has an impact on people’s choices – it makes them think the career is interesting and doable.
“It is possible this is short term interest, but currently economic conditions are such that people are looking at careers that they wouldn’t have approached in the past, and hospitality jobs are one area that graduates can go into quite easily.
“Also a lot of students have done work in the industry as part of their degree and many will be familiar and comfortable with it. It’s a career that’s open to people regardless of what their speciality is. Careers that are open to graduates of any discipline are attractive to graduates at the moment. It’s a viable option for ambitious graduates.”
Capture talent now
Michel Roux’s Service followed the transition of eight young people as they began front of house careers in the hospitality industry. Viewers saw the youngsters progress and develop over the course of six months, with three of them eventually awarded an Academy of Food and Wine Service (AFWS) scholarship.
Mike Hill, chief executive at Graduate Prospects, said that hospitality businesses could help plug their skills gap by taking advantage of the renewed interest in the sector.
“There are a lot of smart graduates out there and they’re making some very smart choices. By keeping their options open some of the brightest talent in our universities will be available to these sectors, and it is up to their HR teams to take advantage of this talent pipeline to help drive their industries forward.”