If you wanted to go and get a job in the hospitality industry tomorrow, there'd be very little stopping you. You can of course choose to do a degree or similar in hospitality, or management training or even food hygiene, but none of these are an absolute pre-requisite to being hired. Traditionally, as an industry, working in hospitality is seen as a more informal career, with on-the-job training providing the skillset required.
However, all of this is starting to change. Employers are starting to want more from their would-be employees – more bang for their buck, if you will – and qualifications of some description are becoming more sought after. In fact, interest in a job in the industry has apparently increased this year alone, with the average number of applicants per post being 21 compared to 16 in 2009. This can only mean that candidates will have to have a point of difference in order to get the role and employers are starting to specifically request technical and leadership qualifications as a priority.
This should, hopefully, bring enormous benefit for the consumer. Of course, staff in the top-end restaurants are solidly and properly trained in-house, but further down the scale, you don't necessarily get service with a smile and quite often you can be fighting to make your wishes understood. And, to touch on our last post on food allergies, it would be a huge comfort to know that staff were trained in first aid, food preparation, even basic knowledge of the food they were serving.
Naturally, training has to be acknowledged as another cost to the restaurateurs et al, but charities such as Springboard, who help applicants get into the industry with the correct training, are surely the way forward; another road less taken is the concept of apprenticeships which could be a real boost to those for whom university is not the dream (viz Michel Roux's excellent programme on BBC2 this year). We're just saying, why let British service keep languishing when interest is booming and the opportunities are there for the taking?
What are your thoughts? Would you take comfort in knowing your waiter was trained for the job, or would you expect to see the cost reflected in the service charge? Or do you think you get what you pay for and a cheap-as-chips restaurant chain can't be expected to have the same service as a gourmet venue? Is service with a smile important to you or is the food what makes you grin?