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Nestlé Professional on the 'talent challenge'

By Katya Simmons, Nestlé Professional

- Last updated on GMT

Toque d’Or 2019 comment

Related tags: competitions, Training, Young adults

Nestlé Professional managing director Katya Simmons on the skills shortage facing the industry and what can be done about it.

The hospitality industry – currently the fourth largest employer in the UK – is facing a significant skills shortage. In 2018 alone, up to 375,000 positions needed to be filled and in restaurants and bars in particular there were more than 125,000 roles vacant. To add to this, it’s predicted one million workers will be lost in the next decade if EU migration is limited.

With research estimating that 1.3 million hospitality workers will need to be recruited by 2024, the hospitality industry is facing uncertain times. It is clear that attracting talent – the right talent – is key to ensure businesses are future-proof and can continue operating successfully.

Outdated perceptions
Recruiting and retaining employees is not a new challenge. The hospitality sector, like many sectors, battles against a stigma and misconceptions which are all too often outdated and untrue. It’s up to businesses to find a way to cut through the noise and bring to the fore the modern realities of the jobs on offer. For example, you often hear that a job in hospitality entails minimum wage and unsociable hours.

This isn’t just the younger generation – 42% of parents say they would actively discourage their children from working in the industry, citing “poor pay” and “long hours” as the most common reasons for this.

With this stigma can also come a perception that a role in the hospitality industry is just temporary. This is reflected in the attitudes of those that no longer work in the sector, with 60% saying they considered their role a temporary one and, what’s more, 62% left their job within three years.

Furthermore, 45% of millennials consider a career in hospitality a “stop gap” or “a job for students”. This leads to headaches around staff turnover and retention; not least the financial implications of regularly recruiting and training new staff, which costs the sector a staggering £274m annually.

A long term career
In order to ensure the right talent is being attracted to industry, it is vital the long-term career opportunities are showcased. This will help to turn the outdated perceptions on their heads and also attract people who want to grow, learn skills and carve out successful careers for themselves.

One way businesses can attract long-term candidates is by offering learning and development opportunities. Currently there is not enough time or resource being put into training. One in ten managers spend less than 5% of their budget on training and over a third (37%) dedicate less than 10% of their time to staff development. However, learning and development is certainly deemed as valuable to those working in the sector, with more than two
thirds (69%) of people agreeing that up-skilling demonstrates a commitment to employees.

With the current skills shortage within the hospitality industry it seems a lot more could be done to invest in staff. Not only will this attract fresh, new talent to the sector but it will equally mean employers can take their businesses to the next level and offer services that require a more highly skilled professional to deliver them. It will equally help retention rates, as a sense of loyalty and longevity will form between both the employer and employee if both are committed to the individual’s future.

Innovations to create an attractive offering
As an industry, we have a collective responsibility to listen to the next generation and adapt where we can to create a more appealing offering. Better pay (65%), flexible working (47%) and opportunities for career progression (38%) would make millennials more likely to consider a career in hospitality.

There are many forward-thinking businesses within the industry which are already looking at new and innovative ways to tailor their culture and job offering to appeal to the next generation. For example, Hand Picked Hotels recently introduced a four-day working week for chefs to support a greater work-life balance. This is part of a wider series of recruitment and retention programmes driven by the company and is in a bid to start turning the tide on the skills gap.

Career breaks are also coming into the fore. For example, Searcys at the Gherkin is actively encouraging secondments, viewing them as a way that staff can enjoy a fantastic experience and equally return up-skilled and motivated to re-join the workforce. An innovative way that outdated perceptions are being stripped away is through simply talking to people from a young age, so they understand the modern reality of the industry, as opposed to age-old views. For example, Browns Pie Shop has rolled out a school pop-up initiative which introduces cooking to young people and children so they can discover a love for food at a young age, and be inspired to consider being a chef as a future career.

Showcasing talent
Another way the industry can attract new talent is by giving them insight into their career opportunities and potential. One effective way to do this is through competitions. One of the most prestigious culinary competitions that celebrates up and coming talent is the Nestlé Professional® Toque d’Or® competition. Now in its 31st year, it has so far worked with 8,000 contestants, highly-regarded supporters such as Anton Mosimann and former judge James Martin. Since 2016 it has not only been open to students but also apprentices at commis level, with 233 having entered so far.

Contestants benefit from an unmatched experience as they gain confidence from hands-on cooking master classes as well as gaining guidance, insight and advice from the respected panel of consultants and judges, as well as fellow peers. The Toque d’Or® competition was designed to bridge the theories of the classroom with work-based learning and the exciting reality of the industry.

A key competition focus for Toque d’Or® this year will be sustainability and vegetarianism trends. The competition will centre around menu items that possess excellent sustainability credentials and link into health and wellbeing. With the focus often on emerging consumer interests and insights, competitions serve as not only a way to applaud emerging talent, but also to help hone skills and plug any gaps in learning. This is more pertinent than ever with the current skills shortage.

Resilience equals a strong future
The hospitality industry is a resilient one. It isn’t all doom and gloom, as 57% of those who have left the industry would consider returning and 60% of millennials would consider a career in the field . This presents a real opportunity for businesses to 12 shout loud and clearly about the exciting and rewarding career paths the industry offers.

For anyone who would like to take part in Nestlé Professional® Toque d’Or® competition registration is open and entrants can sign up here​.​ Winning prizes this year will include a once in a lifetime gastronomic trip to Europe. For further information head here.​ ​or join the conversation on social media #Toquedor2019.

Taste the future

Registration for the prestigious Nestlé Professional® Toque d’Or® competition for students and apprentice chefs at commis level in the UK is open. Now in its 31st year, it has attracted over 220 colleges to enter their students. Since 2016 the Toque d’Or® competition has also been open to industry apprentices at commis level.

Competitions like Toque d’Or® serve as not only a way to applaud emerging talent, but also to help hone skills and plug any gaps in learning. Entrants are tested throughout the competition as they are provided with new experiences and challenges that will enhance their learning and career.

A key competition focus for Toque d’Or® this year is on sustainability and vegetarianism. The competition will centre around menu items that possess excellent sustainability credentials and link into health and wellbeing.
Whether you are a student or apprentice wanting to compete, or a lecturer or employer keen to show learners new opportunities, visit​ ​for further information.

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