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The ‘What Next’ Breakfast Briefing - Key Insights

Posted on 11 March, 2019


What next after Brexit

The ‘What Next’ Breakfast Briefing took place on Thursday 28th February, hosted by The Springboard Charity and HIT Training.

Panel Moderator:
James Hacon – Think Hospitality

Jill Whittaker, MD – HIT Training
Kate Nicholls, CEO – UKHospitality
Maria Stanford, People and Talent Director – WSH
Dan Grantham, Talent Attraction Manager – Yo! Sushi

Attracting Talent

“Attracting talent is a global issue. In order to tackle it, we need to make things happen and leverage the opportunities that are out there. In the face of a challenge, you have to do things differently.”

  • Yo! Sushi works in partnership with the Jobs Centre to aid its recruitment. This process involves assessment centres, running talks with Job Centre employees and work experience so they can better understand the roles and advise their clients. 
  • BaxterStorey is working hard to engage its employees and communicate the benefits of working for the brand over others. It’s important to nourish your current talent and create an attractive workplace to keep labour turnover low.

“It’s foolish to think we can rely on the same talent pool we always have, we have to think differently about talent.”

  • Recruitment methods are moving away from the traditional job boards and to social media platforms to attract the younger generation. 
  • There is a lot of crossover with the retail industry and hospitality. For example, retailers are trying to increase dwell time and one way to do this is through food and drink. With many retailers restructuring, there is an opportunity to bring this talent into the hospitality industry. Skills from front line retail are completely transferrable into hospitality roles. 
  • Job applications are moving to be more values-focussed than centred on roles and responsibilities. 


  • Employers are starting to see a number of employees from the EU leaving, particularly at a management level, as well as a reduction in the number of applicants received from EU nationals. There is a higher case of this in London but it’s starting to be reflected in other regions. 
  • A positive impact is that employers are experiencing higher retention levels, with employees staying put due to the level of uncertainty in the UK economy. 
  • There’s recently been a big upturn in EU nationals applying for settlement in the UK. To do this they require English and maths qualifications and as a result, HIT Training has seen a 500% increase in people undertaken these. 
  • Immediately after the Brexit vote, the hospitality industry experienced a 50% decrease in applicants from EU nationals. 
  • The devaluation of the pound has meant that many EU workers aren’t coming to the UK to work, as they cannot earn enough to send home to their families. 
  • There is a case of ‘delayed decision making’ within the hotel industry. Historically people have come to the UK to work in some of the world’s best hotels, but now EU nationals are holding off on doing this or going to places like Milan and New York. 
  • UKHospitality has persuaded the Government to not charge a fee for claiming settled status. This means that employers can now process this application on behalf of their employees. 
  • There is currently a severe lack of trust in Government bodies and a higher level of trust in employers. 
  • When the UK leaves the EU on 29th March, there is a transition period up until December 2020, this means that during this time, EU workers can still come to the UK to work. 

The Apprenticeship Levy 

  • HIT Training has seen a massive upturn in employers using their funding over the last few months. This is particularly due to the funding starting to expire in May 2019. 
  • It’s not just the Apprenticeship Levy which has presented challenges to employers, in the space of a relatively short time, the 20% off the job rule and new standards were introduced. These are all significant changes in the apprenticeship market and it has taken employers a long time to get used to and understand these changes. 
  • Since the Apprenticeship Levy was introduced, small businesses have stopped investing in apprenticeships. 
  • The hospitality industry now has the best suite of apprenticeships it has ever had. 
  • Historically qualifications have been education-led, but this has now changed and they’re employer-led. This has helped to increase engagement and has given people greater access to qualifications. 

The Point of Influence 

  • We need to highlight the career opportunities in hospitality to all education levels, from primary right through to higher education. 
  • Initiatives like Springboard’s FutureChef are starting to plant the seed from an earlier age and the industry needs to do more of this. We need more ambassadors from the sector that can go into schools and inspire the next generation. These ambassadors need to be young success stories who are open about what they do and what they earn.
  • Kitchen Technology is becoming less of a focus in schools. We’re not going to get these kitchens back into schools in the short term, so the solution is to go into schools, particularly as we’ve never had a nation so interested in food. 
  • Hospitality is a very entrepreneurial industry – the sky is the limit and people can progress very quickly at a young age. 
  • Within schools children are interacting with food in a transactional way, they’re not being exposed to what can be achieved through food. 
  • As well as going into schools, employers also need to make sure they’re actively marketing the career opportunities to current employees, in particular university students or casual workers. We need to be shouting about the different opportunities and career routes, as well as highlighting the success stories. 
  • The majority of images used to represent the industry are of front of house positions, it’s not showing the breadth of roles available. 

Staff Retention 

“If you’re constantly replacing people, you cannot build up the skills your business needs.”

  • Businesses need to be as flexible as possible by offering benefits, such as sabbaticals and flexible working, to appeal to the next generation of workers. 
  • Employers need to understand what their core proposition is and clearly communicate this to employees and in job adverts. 

“Hospitality is a 24/7 business and we’ve got to accommodate the flexibility people are looking for.”

  • Employees’ relationship with their line managers is a key reason why they either choose to leave or stay at a company. Yo! Sushi is putting its senior management team on the shop floor and in the kitchens, so they understand the job roles of the team they manage and the challenges they face. 

“If you want to be an employer of choice, you need to listen to your employees, provide development opportunities and make it a pleasant environment to work in.”


It was great speaking to our account manager, Catherine, this afternoon and great to hear that HIT are being so supportive with our apprentices, I found the call very positive in a time of crisis, so thank you.

The Learner’s leaflet is great and being sent out to Apprentices and Line Managers following our communication last week providing a great follow up.

Jonathan Foot - Head of Apprenticeships, Compass Group

McMullen’s chose HIT as its sole external provider for Apprenticeships and vocational qualifications in early 2015 and since then we have found them a pleasure to work with.  Their expertise in this sector is superior and they have proven to be a professional and supportive partner who have a passion for learning and development, which matches our own organisation.

Amanda Walden – Training & Recruitment Manager, McMullen's

Encouraging our staff to improve their skills set and supporting them through apprenticeships and training programmes underlines our commitment to help them further develop their own careers. Offering the Level 4 Higher Apprenticeship also gives the Brend Group a point of difference which I’m convinced will help attract new members of staff in the future.

Andrew Mosedale - Group HR Manager, Brend Hotels

Our partnership with HIT has certainly made recruitment much easier in a very difficult labour market and gives us a point of difference in an increasingly competitive environment.  Kew Green has also benefited enormously from well trained, skilled and competent staff who contribute significantly to the ever improving and high levels of customer experience that our guests expect and deserve.

Andrew Tregenza - HR Business Partner, Kew Green Hotels

Apprenticeships allow us to give people a great opportunity to develop a career with us and learn a skill or trade that will accompany them throughout their career and life. We see progression to the Level 4 qualification as key to our strategy of providing development at all stages of an employee’s career with Harrison.

Alex Taylor - Training Manager, Harrison Catering Services

HIT Training has provided such an incredible support to us during lockdown, with regular webinar invitations, videocalls and engagement solutions. Our business focus shifted to learning and development and we managed to enrol 3 times more apprentices on training programmes than before!

Anastasia Talatzidou -L&D Manager, Gaucho


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