Working in either hospitality or retail is regarded by many to be a rite of passage for young Australians entering the workforce, and for good reason. Many jobs in hospitality offer flexible schedules, penalty loading and the opportunity to build a social life with your colleagues. However, for many young people and their families, hospitality is often considered to simply be a stepping stone on the way to a more ‘real’ career. What is being missed here are the fantastic opportunities that a career in hospitality has to offer.
Careers in hospitality are incredibly in-demand
According to the National Skills Commission’s Recruitment Insights Report, 63% of hospitality businesses have said they are having difficulty recruiting staff.
There have been two key drivers of this phenomenon. The first is the recovery of hospitality venues following the reduction of travel and patronage restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Simultaneously, many of the jobs that had been filled by people travelling on working visas have yet to be filled again now that our borders have largely restored to normal.
While this is tough on employers, for young people this represents a unique opportunity to leverage that demand for higher wages, opportunities for professional development and on-the-job training.
Additionally, the NSW Government announced that up to 3,000 people will be able to study skills related to the hospitality sector free of charge, including barista training, safe food handling, responsible service of alcohol (RSA) and introduction to cooking courses.
Hospitality careers develop highly versatile skills
A 2017 report which analysed work patterns across 12 million Australians argued that young people will be likely to work in 17 jobs and across more than 5 career paths over their working lifetimes. What this shows is that transferable skills are becoming an increasingly powerful currency for job seekers to land their next dream position.
The hospitality industry is well-known for requiring and developing strong ‘soft-skills’. Soft skills refer to professional experience that isn’t necessarily measured by formal qualifications or education, but are still great value-adds. Skills such as communication, time management, leadership and quick problem solving are all integral parts of any job in the hospitality industry. Whether someone is working front-of-house as a bartender or waiter, or in back-of-house as a dishwasher or prep cook, hospitality workers are highly measured on their enthusiasm and people skills.
As any job-hunter would be well aware of, skills such as being able to make quick decisions in high-pressure situations, manage customer complaints and develop relationships with clients are skills that any employer would be glad to have in an employee. For young people, starting their working lives in hospitality provides a great foundation that they can build upon as their career ambitions change over time.
Hospitality careers are more than entry-level positions
Hospitality is often a strong draw for young people because jobs in the sector have a low barrier to entry, often requiring short-course qualifications rather than university degrees. However, this unfortunately creates a perception that more financially lucrative or ‘serious’ jobs can’t be found in the industry.
The truth is that the hospitality sector is far more than prep cooks and waitstaff. As someone develops their career in hospitality, they will gain practical on-the-job experience, as well as the opportunity to take on further study in areas such as management, business accounting, marketing and logistics in order to assume more responsibilities. There are also several ways to move between areas of the hospitality industry. A young professional might start as a cook in a catering business, then move to events, or into the hotelier business.
Many enterprising young people who enjoy the experience of running their own business would be pleased to discover they can hone their skills in an environment which rewards their enthusiasm to learn all aspects of a venue or kitchen.
If your child or student is interested in a career in hospitality, we recommend they explore our free short course Cheers To Careers. Made in collaboration with the NSW Government, it takes young people through how to start and build a career across different sectors of the hospitality industry in a fun, approachable format.