As venues emerge from the shutdowns that shook the hospitality sector to its core, changing attitudes is key to its success.
Ask anyone in hospitality: you can pivot, diversify, and adapt your business as many times as you like but nothing is like the feeling of opening the doors again.
Few sectors have suffered the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic as deeply as hospitality. The Office of National Statistics reports 41% of hospitality businesses paused trading in December 2020 compared to an average of 13% in other industries.
Even now, with successive lockdowns behind us, the pandemic casts a long shadow of uncertainty.
But there are signs of a recovery together with societal changes that might play in hospitality’s favour and a signal of what the sector could look like in a post-Covid world.
Firstly, hospitality is hiring again. Demand is rising – people want to eat and drink out again, aided by a refreshed desire to support local, independent venues born out of changing attitudes during the pandemic.
In a world where your average venue now provides click and collect, delivery and eat-in, the skills your average flexible hospitality business requires is broader than ever before.
But for the sector to truly thrive, there’s a consensus that we need to treat hospitality as a true career – not a stepping stone, summer position or transient job – a conversation that long predates the pandemic.
“People still do not see hospitality as a sustainable career – it’s a weekend job, not the amazingly rewarding sector it can be,” says Karen Dorow, Executive of Health & Lifestyle Professions at City College Plymouth.
“It demands skills that are generally not considered – managing people, HR, customer service, digital marketing. It’s far from just knowing how to cook, and we’ve spoken for years about how attitudes differ so widely in Europe, where it’s considered a much more sustainable career path.”
Karen says the College has noticed a surge in demand for people looking to progress in the industry as venues emerge from their most challenging of times.
She says the message must be that you can build a future in hospitality and follow in the footsteps of those enjoying success in the sector.
“Hospitality is a diverse sector, it’s become a major tourist draw and we’re beginning to see that in Plymouth,” she says.
“We’ve helped progress people who have started in front-of-house service to becoming managers of hotel chains or commanding teams of staff aboard luxury cruise ships.
“We need to collaborate as a city and a region to convince people that this is possible, that it’s not a transient experience.”
The College has been focusing on how to help hospitality get back on its feet and strongly believes collaboration will be key to unlocking its potential.
Karen adds: “We have been working on big events where students will be working and building experience and transferable skills.
“These people have had a tough time, but they are resilient. We need to give them credit for the way they have weathered the disruption to their formative years.
“Now we need to collaborate with the industry to rebuild. These are people who need to learn, and they can help re-emerging businesses – we’re here to support them and the industry.”
Businesses can contact City College Plymouth’s Business Engagement team on firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01752 305026.
Case study: Fletcher’s Restaurant
Fletcher Andrews has always had a passion for food and thanks City College Plymouth for giving him the foundations to fulfil his dream.
His love of cooking started when he was just 14 at St Boniface College. He completed work experience at the New Continental Hotel and was offered a job there when he finished school.
Just a few years later, Fletcher was working alongside top chef and Masterchef winner Anton Piotrowski at the Michelin-starred Treby Arms, and could not have been happier.
At the end of 2018, he opened his own restaurant – Fletcher’s in Princess Street – which continues to go from strength to strength.
Fletcher enrolled on a two-year Level 2 Diploma in Hospitality and Catering at City College Plymouth and worked at the New Continental alongside the course.
He says: “City College was definitely the best place for me to go. They teach you everything you need to know to go into a professional kitchen – all the basics, your knife skills, making basic sauces, pastries. It’s a brilliant foundation and stepping stone to go and work in a professional kitchen.
“If people are thinking about going to college I’d say definitely do it, whether it’s just for one year or two. Learn the basics as it’ll really help you in a professional kitchen.
“Every chef I’ve worked with in Plymouth went to City College which is incredible. It does go a long way and is a ringing endorsement.”
Picture by tommyhatwell.com