‘Becoming an employer of choice for young people,’ Jill Whittaker HIT Training

Jill Whittaker, HIT Training managing director
10/08/2018 - 10:22
This International Youth Day (12 August), managing director of HIT Training, Jill Whittaker, explores how businesses in the cost sector can become an ‘employer of choice’ for the next generation of catering stars.

International Youth Day is an annual initiative run by the United Nations (UN), which celebrates the role young preople play as partners in change, and to raise awareness of the opportunities and challenges that the younger generation face.

With this in mind, Whittaker spoke to Cost Sector Catering about how hospitality employers can make their workplaces more appealing to young talent, and open their eyes to the opportunities that a career in the catering industry presents.

This theme of this year’s International Youth Day is ‘safe spaces’ which Whittaker believes “is a chance to talk about how we can make employment spaces more productive, inspiring and motivating for our young people.”

As maging director at HIT Training, she added: “My passion is of course skills and training, and there is no better time to consider the value development programmes can offer than when we’re discussing opportunities and the work lives of today’s youth.

“International Youth Day is designed to support the World Programme of Action for Youth – a core pillar of which is employment.

“According to 2018 government youth unemployment statistics, there are currently more than 350,000 people aged 16-24 in the UK not in full time education or employment. This is a vast pool of potential talent which could be supported into work with the appropriate training or apprenticeship scheme.

“The chance to learn new skills, build knowledge and gain experience is a massive draw for young people. In fact, the Adecco Staffing Way to Work survey of Generation Z showed ‘potential for career growth’ as their top motivator when it comes to finding a first job, and this attitude is reflected in other age groups; a multigenerational survey from Monster.com sees 74% rank the value of their job role ahead of a pay cheque.

So, how do we help young people to see cost sector catering businesses as somewhere they would like to and could work?

Whittaker lists the top 7 key attributes young people are looking for in an employer:

  1. Pride: There is no doubt that the drive for a career to be a proud of is something the catering industry can tap into by showcasing the potential for fast career progression. There aren’t many other sectors you could be in a supervisory role by age 19 or 20, for example.
  2. Inclusivity: Ensuring you have a development plan designed to meet the needs of a diverse range of candidates is crucial. HIT Training, for example, caters for different learning styles by using practical content for hands-on learners, demonstrations for visual learning, and written material for those who learn through reading to make sure all the apprentices we work with are set up for success.
  3. Purpose: Members of Gen Z want their careers to have both a purpose and passion. Gen Z stands out as the generation that most strongly believes work should have a greater purpose (74% vs. 69% across all working generations).
  4. Clear career path: Apprenticeships are an effective way to develop skilled and committed staff. People 1st stated that 80% of companies who invest in apprentices report an increase in staff retention.
  5. Company culture: While salary continues to be a key motivator, over a third of people say company culture, reputation and employer brand is key when choosing where they work.
  6. Work / life balance: We need to work together to dispel outdated perceptions around working conditions and long hours in the catering sector, which just aren’t true anymore. Designing innovative employment packages, which are considerate of desires for a good work-life balance, will encourage people to join our industry.
  7. Respect: Gen Z rank ‘a boss I can respect’ among their top three most essential criteria in a job. By investing in preparing your management team to effectively coach and mentor young recruits, you can set yourself apart from competitor organisations.

The hospitality sector is one of the largest employers in the UK and since the 2008 recession, it is growing quicker than any other sector.

This shows there are ample career opportunities but, despite this, Whittaker claims: “There is a skills shortage that continues to pose a risk to the industry. Perhaps, to coincide with International Youth Day, we should take the opportunity to take a concerted look at making catering jobs more appealing and accessible to young people.”

For more information on HIT Training, please visit: www.hittraining.co.uk

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