Published 23 April 2021
by Adam Hyman
CODE founder Adam Hyman discusses the hospitality industry’s own pandemic – that of recruitment
The sun’s been shining in London this week and whilst we’d all like the temperature to be a little warmer, the absence of April showers has been a much-needed boost for outdoor hospitality (layering, hot water bottles and lip balm have suddenly become a priority for me). As the majority of hospitality that cannot open starts to ramp up now for that much anticipated date of 17 May, the stark stats from the Office of National Statistics around unemployment pose something far more poignant than how to keep customers warm – who is going to provide the hospitality?
Between March 2020 and 2021, just over 800,000 people lost their jobs, with over 350,000 of these in our industry. Whilst this probably comes as no surprise to many of us, it seems that the industry finds itself in exactly the same position as it did at the beginning of 2020 – experiencing a huge recruitment problem. If CODE’s own digital jobs board is anything to go by over the past couple of weeks, every operator is back on the hunt for staff but where are they to be found?
The perfect storm of Brexit and lockdown has seen a number of European workers return back to their home countries and for those that lost their jobs across our restaurants, hotels and pubs over the past year they’ve ended up taking roles in other sectors like supermarkets and e-commerce with seemingly little desire to return back to hospitality.
So, what now? Sadly, this is something that cannot be fixed overnight. There’s an underlying snobbery around the service sector in this country and it’s something we as an industry need to do something about. We can’t do it individually; we need to do it as one. Back when I was at university, going into hospitality wasn’t even considered an option. Lawyers, doctors and accountants get approval from parents and those who offer advice around careers, but to follow a career as a chef, a restaurateur, a bartender is often viewed by many in society as a job you don’t pursue but probably fall into because you can’t get a ‘proper’ job.
Our TV schedules, streaming services and media are chockablock with food. Great British Menu, Masterchef, the Great British Bake Off, Chef’s Table, recipe columns, restaurant reviews, cookbooks – it’s consumed on a huge scale for entertainment purposes but yet there seems to be some catastrophic breakdown when it comes to this being seen as a viable career. In this industry I have met some of the most inspirational, creative, talented people and the range of jobs is so broad and diverse.
Our industry still has a long way to go when it comes to certain aspects of it, something our annual Happiness in Hospitality survey clearly highlights, but I still find myself asking why we’re not doing more to, at least, showcase what amazing careers this industry has to offer, and ultimately be out and about trying to find likeminded individuals to come join us. The covid pandemic has taught us a lot over the past 12-months, it’s brought challenges but in many ways made us much more resilient, and we need to channel this into eradicating our own pandemic.