About the project
I am the Project Manager of Edge Hotel School’s outreach initiative; Inspiring Hospitality Careers (IHC). IHC was developed by Edge Hotel School to challenge the increasing skill shortages within the hospitality industry. Phase 1, launched in October 2017, involved delivering innovative career guidance to young people while still in education; aiming to break misconceptions and make hospitality a career of choice. Phase 2, launched March 2019, builds on this by training career teachers; delivering CPD events and providing materials that can be incorporated into the classroom, to inspire the next generation of hospitality professionals.
I had the opportunity to be a part of this project right from its start; having joined soon after Edge Hotel School had secured a grant from the Edge Foundation. I was particularly interested in working on this project as I had previously been a part of Essex County Council’s Employability & Skills Unit as a Senior Skills Officer, where I was working on similar programmes. I really enjoy supporting young people with their career education and find it so rewarding to see a young person change their perspectives and learn more about all the career opportunities they can access.
I was also eager to work on the IHC project, as I also had my own personal work experience within the hospitality industry, having worked 4* and 5* hotels in Northern Ireland but, moreover, my father is in the industry, so I really grew up in hospitality! Therefore I knew it would be an exciting industry to promote and one that is very accessible for any young person (from entry to senior management).
As Project Manager my role is varied and covers everything from graphic design work, networking and scheduling to delivery, collecting data and strategic planning. IHC even developed a short video (available via Myhospitalitylife.com) that has had over 120k views. I also travel a lot in this role, having been all over the country, from Manchester to Norfolk; hospitality is everywhere and so I am!
The industry need for the IHC project
The role of the IHC project within the hospitality industry is important. The industry shortages are high, in fact, we have one of the biggest skill shortages of any other industry; the time for action is now.
The industry will certainly be looking at the next generation of workers to fill our growing vacancies, however, hospitality is not a popular career choice for young people. Looking at the data we have collected alongside the project, typically only 8% of young people (aged 12-18) are interested in working in this industry. It is very telling that many young people tell me that they have never heard from any professionals in the industry before my visit. It is also significant how much of an impact visiting a school can have for a young person; according to our data, after just one visit from IHC, 8% grows to 88% of students now considering a career in hospitality. So it is very important that the industry collectively works on embedding hospitality into careers education within schools so we can ensure that we have a future workforce to help meet the growing skill demands.
The most challenging part of my role is that there is only one of me! The STEM sector has a whole website dedicated to industry support, but there are not many hospitality school initiatives so, the demand from schools has been high. In the year and a half the project has been running, I have worked with nearly 10,000 students! Often at school careers days, I am the only representative from the industry in attendance, and if I am unable to make an event then the school has no hospitality included. It is hoped that in the long term we can connect more hospitality professionals with schools (through the teacher CPD events) so that there is a bigger network supporting the next generation.
Often I get fantastic feedback from the students which makes this such a great job; many young people tell me that they are now excited to enter the industry and teachers will email about greater uptake in hospitality courses following my visits. This all makes the role very worthwhile and rewarding. Below is some of the feedback I have had from young people that shows just how impactful the project has been for opening their perspectives: