95% of school leavers wouldn't consider a career in hospitality, study finds

The  Staff Canteen

95 percent of school leavers wouldn't consider a career in hospitality and see work in the sector as merely temporary, according to a recent study

Misconceptions around poor pay and a lack of flexibility are among the leading reasons as to why most 18-24-year-olds aren't considering a career in the sector, according to the research undertaken by Caterer.com

With businesses now facing an acute staffing shortage, employers are focused on attracting the next generation of skilled workers. However, this research highlights one of the challenges they face, that of altering the perception of the sector amid a sharp fall in available talent.

There is plenty to attract people to the sector: with a record number of openings, prospective employees are increasingly offered higher salaries.

However, a major lack of information regarding potential career opportunities has led to misconceptions about hospitality, with 55 percent of school leavers taking part in the study viewing hospitality jobs as just temporary. Just under half (44 percent) of 18-24-year-olds believe that the sector doesn't offer career progression at all.

Where do the misconceptions come from?

As for the possible reasons as to why the hospitality industry is perceived so negatively, findings suggest that parents, and outdated views about the industry, have a large role to play.

Parents have the biggest influence on school leaver's career choices, yet only 1 in 5 would encourage their child to pursue a career in hospitality, due to beliefs surrounding low pay, anti-social working hours, and poor earning potential. Most parents surveyed would prefer for their children to look for careers in industries such as engineering, law, management, or finance.

Furthermore, many young people feel that they haven't been properly informed about jobs in hospitality at school. 61 percent reported that the removal of food technology from the national curriculum has undermined the possibility of them exploring a career in the sector.

When schools do include hospitality in their curriculum, it has historically only focused on kitchen-based roles, failing to take into consideration any of the other roles and opportunities available in hospitality, of which there are many.

Silver linings

Despite just five percent of respondents actively planning a career in hospitality, over half (56 percent) of school leavers agreed that the sector is attractive when it comes to employment.

They highlighted the opportunity to learn new skills, flexible hours, wanting to work in a public-facing role, variety and having the opportunity to travel.

Of those disinterested in a career in hospitality, 37 percent said that they would reconsider if the pay was better. Good working hours, better earning potential and a reduction of the stressful nature of the job were also seen as potential game-changers.

Also cited as a reason for not joining hospitality was how stressful it was as a career with 20 percent of those disinterested in hospitality saying that if it was a less stressful job they would be more interested.

Director at Caterer.com Kathy Dyball said the research showed that there was great potential for employers to convince young people of the benefits of hopitality work - and that some already have.

“In an industry-wide effort to attract and retain talent, many hospitality employers have taken great steps to improve pay, offer comprehensive benefit packages and flexible working hours," she said.

"As an industry, we are also taking action to address the misconceptions of the sector, promote the long-term development opportunities and ensure we have a healthy pipeline of entry-level talent to move the sector forward. To do this, it’s crucial we reach young people as they make critical decisions about their careers."

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The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 20th May 2022

95% of school leavers wouldn't consider a career in hospitality, study finds