The Patisserie Valerie owner said there was still a way to go to fill the skills gap, but that he was starting to see a shift in attitudes towards building a career within hospitality.
“There’s this in-built prejudice about the service industry and hospitality, but that is changing,” he told BigHospitality. “I think it’s becoming more fashionable to work in restaurants and in food and drink and how popular it is among young people matters.
“Many people I know, including some very successful restaurateurs and hoteliers, fell into the trade by accident rather than chose it, but with the growing number of celebrity chefs and our celebration of foodies now, the status of the industry has risen, so it is a more attractive career choice.
“I also think having more authorised and high status training centres and educational facilities that offer serious qualifications in hospitality is a positive step.”
Johnson, who is also chairman of the Career Colleges, the employer-led educational centres which allow young people to study for a vocational specialism alongside their GCSEs and other academic qualifications, said it was a ‘good thing’ that attitudes were shifting as the industry would need more people to fill the estimated 300,000 extra jobs by 2020.
He said: “Britain has huge potential for visits from emerging economies and there is massive projected growth for demand for people to work in the tourism and hospitality industry.
“There are going to be huge jets of people coming over willing to spend money here and career colleges are tapping into that respective demand and he need for practical skills, tying up with local business and industry so that the skills and training provided and qualifications are relevant to the workplace and suited to the needs of the employers.
“Bluntly, I think for too long we’ve relied upon migrants, which is not a bad thing, but it is also healthy to have more of the workforce here trained in the UK, ready and able to work and skilled in the right way and that’s what our Career Colleges - Bromley, in particular - will do.”
Speaking ahead of the launch of BR6, the training restaurant at Bromley Career College in Orpington on Thursday (26 February), Johnson underlined the need for the industry to work with educational establishments to ensure students were ‘work-ready’.
“Most employers are not aware of Career Colleges yet," he said. "They are running their businesses not focused on education, but that will change over time when the first batch come out and as more open I hope they’ll get involved too by helping to advise on how the courses are constructed and helping to teach even.
“It’s about building a work-ready set of employees coming out of education who are equipped, ready and match-fit. There isn’t a hotelier or restaurateur who isn’t always challenged with finding good people - motivated and trained staff who are keen and ready to work. Everyone suffers from the same problem, so a source of good quality people is always going to be appreciated."
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