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First Dates’ Fred Sirieix backs national campaign to encourage more young people into hospitality

First Dates maitre d’hotel Fred Sirieix is backing a national campaign to encourage young people to pursue a career in hospitality, amid growing concerns that Brexit is creating a skills gap within the industry.

The Channel 4 star, general manager at top London restaurant Galvin at Windows, has fronted a video in support of My Hospitality Life – a UK wide initiative launched by the Edge Hotel School in Essex.

A report commissioned from KPMG by the British Hospitality Association last year found that 24 per cent of the sector’s workforce of three million people came from other EU countries. However, latest official figures show a sharp fall in the number of EU workers moving to the UK. The BHA report said that upwards of 60,000 workers per year were needed in addition to the ongoing recruitment of 200,000 workers required to replace churn and to power growth.

Sharing his love for hospitality Fred said: “You could be working in a wide variety of roles. From being a chef or a waiter, to managing events, such as weddings, concerts or even festivals, to international hotel marketing, working on cruise liners or even being a general manager of a five-star hotel.

“You have the choice to work anywhere in the world, from exotic locations to vibrant cities, or even in your home town. It really is one of the most varied and exciting industries in the world. There is a role for everyone.”

Recent research has found that just 22 per cent of 16-21 year olds in the UK would consider a career in hospitality, despite it being the UK’s fourth largest industry.

Principal of the Edge Hotel School Andrew Boer, who devised the campaign, said: “There is evidence from the industry that Brexit is having an effect. It’s a real concern.

“The reality is we don’t currently have enough home-grown talent to fill the positions that are likely to become available. We didn’t have that before and – as things stand – we certainly won’t have it in a few years’ time after we leave the EU.

“We want to reverse that trend so that we have a workforce fit for the future.  Currently young people aren’t aware of just how vibrant and exciting a career in hospitality can be.

“There’s a perception that it’s all about making beds or waiting tables. But it’s much more than that.  It can lead to a whole variety of roles that span design, revenue management, finance, talent development, law and marketing. It involves real business acumen.”

As part of My Hospitality Life, representatives from the Edge Hotel School are visiting schools and colleges throughout the UK to promote the hospitality industry and highlight the opportunities available.

Charlie Johnston, 22, Rooms Division graduate at The London Edition Hotel, said: “When I was at school I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do.  I knew I wanted to go into an area of business, but I wasn’t really sure where my interests in life would take me.

“After speaking to some career advisors and teachers they noticed my passion for travel and people and they suggested hospitality.  It was the right move from day one. I have the opportunity to travel now, I meet new people and I get new experiences every day, which isn’t something you get in other industries.”

 My Hospitality Life has been launched in partnership with The Edge Foundation and The Springboard Charity, which helps disadvantaged and underprivileged young people find work within hospitality, leisure and tourism.

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