How hospitality can tackle the 'death of the Saturday job'

By Sophie Witts contact

- Last updated on GMT

How hospitality can tackle the 'death of the Saturday job'

Related tags: Young people, Employment

The hospitality industry is ‘perfectly placed’ to tackle the decline in young people combining part-time work with their studies, but must do more to retain the best talent.

That’s according to workforce development charity People 1st, which has responded to research released by the UK Commission for Employment and Skills earlier this month claiming that the number of young people earning and learning has fallen 50 per cent since 1996.

Titled ‘The death of the Saturday job’, the report found that the number of 16 and 17 year olds combining work and study has dropped from 42 per cent in 1996 to 18 per cent in 2014.

One in five young people (20 per cent) reported that hours of work were too restrictive, with nearly a quarter (23 per cent) reporting a lack of jobs in the local area.

“Though these statistics are alarming, our own findings suggest that almost half of waiting staff and 25 per cent of bar staff are also full-time students, making hospitality – and the flexible hours it offers – one of the most popular areas for young people to begin their journeys into the world of work,” commented Simon Tarr, managing director of People 1st.

Poor staff retention

Despite high levels of young people entering hospitality, the industry is failing to retain the best talent long term.

Staff turnover in the sector currently stands at 20 per cent, with approximately 365,675 workers leaving the sector each year - costing the industry £274m per annum.

People 1st has warned that increasing the number of apprenticeships offered by businesses is ‘vital’ to encouraging young people to remain the industry.

“An increasing fear of failure has a crucial part to play in the decline of the Saturday job – young people simply don’t feel they can balance the pressure of exams with work, and this is where hospitality apprenticeships really come into their own,” said Tarr.

“Apprenticeships offer young people the opportunity to learn and earn while developing great careers, and a Saturday job has traditionally opened the doors to apprenticeships with small and large businesses."

Millennial ambition

Though a number of high profile hospitality companies such as Hilton​ and Whitbread currently operate extensive career schemes, there is evidence that the sector is failing to meet the career expectations of young people.

Earlier this year a study of 1,036 hospitality employees​, 88 per cent of which were millennials, found that while staff rated a good work/life balance and 'encouraging and supporting employee development' as the most important traits of an employer - neither were considered representative of the culture of hospitality.

The findings come at a pivotal time for the industry, which is set to grow faster than the global economy this year.

The World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) has warned that the UK risks being 'left behind'​ the global market unless action is taken to tackle the worsening skills deficit in the sector.

Tarr said: “It’s vital that more employers are able to offer these opportunities and that young people understand that, when it comes to building a rewarding career, hospitality apprenticeships are a fantastic alternative to full-time education.”

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