Q&A: Changing the perception of the UK hospitality sector

UK restaurant consultant Adam Hyman dishes about working in bars, pubs and restaurants.

by bret.silverberg, published 03/03/2014
[caption id="attachment_6739" align="alignright" width="315"]Adam Hyman Courtesy: Pub and Bar Careers Programme[/caption] In the United Kingdom, it is estimated that the hospitality industry will need to recruit over 100,000 people by 2018. Thousands of these roles are going unfilled, according to the Pub & Bar Careers programme, due to negative perceptions of careers in hospitality. The Pub & Bar Careers programme offers a free pre-employment scheme and relevant work experience to help young and unemployed people into the sector. The programme was launched by the Perceptions Group, a collection of UK hospitality industry leaders, in early 2013 to inspire young people. The group aims to change negative perceptions of the industry. Adam Hyman, founder of the restaurant consultancy CODE, and most recently voted one of the UK’s 100 Most Connected by GQ Magazine, believes the hospitality industry and pub trade is a good career option for young people in the UK. Pub & Bar Careers programme talked with Hyman about his career path and the direction of the industry. Pub and Bar Careers: How did you originally decide that it was the industry for you? Adam Hyman: I have always loved the hospitality industry. My mother has been in hospitality all her life — she was a general manager of Richoux before she had children and my father has always been associated with restaurants — he was on the board of Groupe Chez Gérard. I grew up with them talking restaurants and we always went out to eat at nice restaurants. I always knew that I’d end up working in the industry and after a little detour to become a chartered surveyor I set up CODE in late 2011. PBC: What would you say is your biggest career success in the hospitality sector? AH: Setting up my own business has been a big point in my career — although we’ll have to wait to see if it is a success. I would say having the opportunity to work with Jeremy King and Chris Corbin, two of the most influential restaurateurs in London and who have been leading the industry for over 20 years. I learned a lot in the eight months I worked for them. PBC: You spend day-in and day-out talking about restaurants, pubs and bars. What has kept you engaged? AH: I am lucky enough to have found something I love and make it a career. Keeping engaged is the easy and fun part. The hard bit is keeping up with all the news in the industry and what is happening. PBC: If you could give one good reason why a young person should join the hospitality sector what would it be? AH: One day is never the same as the next. You are dealing with different people every single day and you are not stuck behind a desk in an office doing a nine to five. PBC: Give one reason why the hospitality sector is the best industry to work in. AH: The people. That is one of the things I love the most about hospitality — you meet people from all over the world, from all backgrounds and in a sense everyone is on a level playing field. PBC: It seems that there is a common misconception that hospitality jobs are short-term summer roles. What prospects do you think that careers in hospitality actually offer? AH: I think it is important to note that hospitality will always have that element of high staff turnover — it is the nature of the business. However, we need to change people’s mentality in this country that working in a restaurant, pub or bar is only something you do on a school holiday or in between "proper" jobs. It needs a government-backed scheme that educates children and, possibly more importantly their parents, that going into hospitality is just as respectable as teaching or becoming a lawyer. You can make a very good career in this industry. PBC: What qualities do you think young people need to make themselves standout in the industry? AH: It goes without saying: you need to be hard-working and dedicated. You also need to like people and understand people; that will serve you well in this people orientated industry. You should also respect your colleagues. PBC: Why do you think that the industry needs the next generation of serious, well trained and qualified staff? AH: We are very close to hitting a tipping point. There are not going to be  enough trained staff to service the number of bars, restaurants, and hotels opening.  A maître d’ friend of mine said just how important it is to train staff and train them properly because one day some of these staff may be training people.  If they haven’t been trained to a certain level then they won’t be training people to a high standard. PBC: Have you got any final word to say to the next generation of workers entering the industry? AH: Have fun — whether you are working in hospitality or elsewhere. Don’t be scared to take risks if it is something you believe in.
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