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Spotlight on… Catering & Hospitality

Spotlight on… Catering & Hospitality

First Brexit, then the pandemic, and now a cost-of-living crisis. The catering and hospitality industry has faced a barrage of challenges in recent years. Among those sits arguably the most prominent challenge of all: major staff shortages. 

Across the industry, 70% of hospitality leaders are facing staffing challenges, and over 20% cited shifting attitudes in the workforce as a contributing factor, with many workers favouring more flexible roles for a greater work-life balance. 

In short, talent is scarce, and relying on traditional methods of recruitment to plug widening skills gaps is not as effective as it once was. To combat this, a new wave of hospitality and catering businesses are turning to apprenticeships to attract and nurture younger talent in the industry.

What’s the current state of employment in catering and hospitality?

It’s no secret that the catering and hospitality industry has a reputation for long, anti-social hours, demanding environments and high-stress conditions. Many people see the sector as one that lacks career progression, and one in which workers have to navigate challenges caused by poor leadership. In fact, only 1 in 10 young people aged 14-21 said they would choose a career in hospitality – demonstrating the significant lack of interest in the sector.

In the aftermath of the pandemic, increasing numbers of workers opted for more flexible working lifestyles – with a considerable surge in the number of remote or hybrid roles. As such, demand for careers in catering and hospitality has dropped substantially, as employees seek more of a work-life balance.

Add that to the industry continuing to adjust to the new post-Brexit environment, and it’s clear that the skills shortage across the sector is not one that will resolve itself. Instead, businesses are turning to new methods to attract younger talent and secure the future of the industry, such as apprenticeships.

Why are more people turning to apprenticeships in this sector?

Recent years have shown that younger generations are becoming increasingly open-minded about their career options and how they progress. Where only 11% of Gen Z considered an apprenticeship instead of the default route of university, the percentage has risen considerably for the next round of school leavers, with 36% of Gen Alpha considering the alternative path.

Why? Simply because more and more young people are recognising that university isn’t the only viable route. With mounting student debts and a considerable lack of vocational courses available, apprenticeships are becoming increasingly popular across multiple industries – and many businesses in catering and hospitality are realising the potential of apprenticeships to nurture future talent.

That said, it’s not just young people that are taking to apprenticeships. They are also proving to be a popular choice for career changers, looking to enhance existing skillsets and discover a new career path later in life, making it an increasingly popular pathway for all ages.

As for apprenticeships in the hospitality industry specifically, it’s important to remember that the skills being taught extend beyond working in a kitchen or answering the phones. Throughout the apprenticeship, candidates get to experience a broad and varied education, with some going as far as awarding a master’s degree.

Having the opportunity to develop such valuable, widely-used skills – which can’t be accessed solely through a full-time degree – is quickly becoming a very attractive feature of hospitality apprenticeships.

What is the current state of apprenticeships in catering and hospitality?

From culinary arts to hotel management, customer service or even comprehensive training as a commis chef – the opportunities available to young people are on the rise.

In fact, there have been a number of new initiatives launched to help support the shift towards apprenticeships within the sector. Just this year, the Chef Academy facilitated a chef masterclass in East London, hoping to empower young aspiring chefs and redefine what it means to work in the catering industry. Additionally, Michelin-trained chef, Matthew Benson-Smith, opened a new catering apprentice academy in November, in the hopes of being a “positive injection” into an otherwise “ailing industry”.

However, it’s not just restaurants that are grasping at the opportunities that apprenticeships present. Prestigious hotels such as JW Marriot Grosvenor House London and The Dorchester are also embracing this new era of employment, collaborating with the University of Gloucestershire to deliver a new degree-level apprenticeship in hospitality management.

What lies ahead for apprenticeships in hospitality and catering, and how can we prepare?

A negative reputation cannot be re-written overnight. The biggest challenge ahead for hospitality leaders is shifting the narrative around working in the sector. Through apprenticeships, businesses are taking the opportunity to showcase a more supportive, progressive, value-driven career path for the next generations.

Initiatives are also being put in place to help shift perceptions and redefine what it means to work in hospitality. As an official industry response to the current recruitment challenges, the Hospitality Rising campaign has been backed by the Hospitality and Tourism Skills Board, and aims to raise £5 million for an advertising campaign to change perceptions of working in the industry. It has gathered considerable support from major names in the hospitality space, including Pret a Manger, Hilton, Welcome Break and BII.

With so much funding and investment going into solving the recruitment crisis in the sector, it’s safe to assume that apprenticeships will become a major driving force in the hospitality and catering industry in the coming years.

End-Point Assessments for catering and hospitality apprenticeships

As the number of catering and hospitality apprenticeships continues to ramp up in the coming months and years, ensuring that the quality of training and assessments continues to a high standard will be critical to the success of the initiative.

Without the right training and support in place for apprentices, the industry will struggle to improve recruitment and access the talent they need to keep the sector afloat.

With epaPRO, businesses can rest assured that the apprenticeship and assessment process runs as smoothly and seamlessly as possible, helping apprentices get the most out of their learning experience, and helping AOs manage time more efficiently.

Skilltech’s End-Point Assessment software is customisable, user-friendly, and unified, so you can keep track of all communications, assessments and progress in one easy-to-use, accessible platform.

If you’re interested in seeing what epaPRO can do for your organisation, you can book a free 45-minute demo to see what problems it could solve – and what opportunities it can unlock - at your organisation.