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Perceptions of low pay deterring Gen Z from a career in hospitality

A nationwide survey commissioned by Umbrella Training has found that young people do not find the hospitality industry to be an attractive career choice because they don’t think the sector pays well.

The research found that only one in 10 young people were willing to choose a career in the hospitality industry, with 31 per cent saying they would not choose a career in the sector because they perceived it to be low paid.

Other reasons included a lack of knowledge about jobs in hospitality (26 per cent), not believing they had the sufficient skills (25 per cent), and not wanting to work unsociable hours (23 per cent).

When asked about salary expectations at the start of their careers, respondents quoted starting at up to £300 a week, increasing to up to £600 per week within the first five years.

More than 2,000 young people between the ages of 14 and 21 across the UK took part in the survey earlier this year, which was commissioned by the training and apprenticeship provider alongside Business LDN.

It was designed to understand the challenges and opportunities for the hospitality industry when it comes to recruiting and retaining Gen Z employees.

The results were analysed by experts at the University of Greenwich who produced the white paper (Umbrella Training | White Paper report 2022 | Hospitality | Gen Z — Umbrella Training), Perceptions of hospitality as a career choice for young adults.

Respondents who chose hospitality as a career that interested them, cited reasons such as ‘making people feel happy’, followed by ‘liking to cook’, at 36 per cent and 29 per cent, respectively.

A fast-paced and fun working environment, opportunities to travel and work abroad, and flexible working were also important to the respondents, at 26 per cent. They also felt strongly about wanting to work in a job in which teamwork is important, and where there were opportunities to learn, progress and earn more quickly, at 25 per cent.

When asked which job roles the respondents associated with hospitality, the most frequently chosen were waiter/waitress, followed by barista, chef, receptionist, housekeeper, and concierge/porter. Marketing and finance director were the least frequently chosen roles, suggesting that young people had some but limited understanding about the different types of hospitality jobs available.

The report identified a clear opportunity for the industry to promote their packages and opportunities to progress, and the breadth of roles available in hospitality to young people.

The white paper also offers advice to support recruitment and retention by meeting these challenges and expectations, with employers encouraged to provide clear and useful information about jobs and their organisations, including salary ranges, opportunities for flexible working, and career development.

Umbrella Training Founder Adele Oxberry said: “For as long as I remember, our sector has battled with attraction and recruitment of young people.

“While there are lots of anecdotal explanations, our aim in commissioning this research was to collect some hard evidence and data on what young people really think about the hospitality industry.

“We’re hoping that the insights we have gathered will help shape how we as a sector behave in the future, and by taking the recommendations forward, create a pipeline of talent coming into our industry who see opportunities in the sector and will carry it into a bright future.”

Mark Hilton, Policy Delivery Director, Membership, at BusinessLDN, said: “The hospitality industry is a strong component of the UK economy, but this report demonstrates it needs a rebrand to fill its current skills gap.

“Some young people perceive hospitality to be a sector of limited career pathways and low pay. This couldn’t be further from the truth. 

“It is clear the industry needs to promote the variety of careers, demonstrate access to training and development and counter concerns around unsociable working hours to broaden its appeal to young people. Showcasing the industry at events like Skills London will help it reach young people and inspire rewarding futures in the industry.”

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