Perceptions of low pay “putting young people off” hospitality

By Joe Lutrario

- Last updated on GMT

Perceptions of low pay “putting young people off” hospitality, study shows

Related tags Recruitment Hospitality Rising

Young people do not find the hospitality industry to be an attractive career choice because they don’t think the sector pays well, according to a nationwide survey.

Commissioned by Umbrella Training, the survey found that only 1 in 10 young people were willing to choose a career in the hospitality industry, with 31% saying they would not choose a career in the sector because they perceived it to be low paid.

Other reasons included a lack of knowledge about jobs in hospitality (26%), not believing they had the sufficient skills (25%), and not wanting to work unsociable hours (23%).

When asked about salary expectations at the start of their careers, respondents quoted starting at up to £300 a week, increasing to up to £600 per week within the first five years.

The survey follows the launch of a major industry-funded recruitment campaign that targets young people.​ Its aim is to help fill the current jobs gap in the sector, which currently stands at around a whopping 400,000 vacancies.

More than 2,000 young people between the ages of 14 and 21 across the UK took part in the survey, which was commissioned by the apprenticeship provider alongside Business LDN. 

It was designed to understand the challenges and opportunities for the hospitality industry when it comes to recruiting and retaining Gen Z employees.

The results were analysed by the University of Greenwich, which produced the white paper (Umbrella Training | White Paper report 2022 | Hospitality | Gen Z — Umbrella Training), Perceptions of hospitality as a career choice for young adults.

Respondents who chose hospitality as a career that interested them, cited reasons such as ‘making people feel happy’, followed by ‘liking to cook’, at 36% and 29%, respectively.

A fast-paced and fun working environment, opportunities to travel and work abroad, and flexible working were also important to the respondents, at 26%. They also felt strongly about wanting to work in a job in which teamwork is important, and where there were opportunities to learn, progress and earn more quickly, at 25%.

When asked which job roles the respondents associated with hospitality, the most frequently chosen were waiter/waitress, followed by barista, chef, receptionist, housekeeper, and concierge/porter. 

Marketing and finance director were the least frequently chosen roles, suggesting that young people had some but limited understanding about the different types of hospitality jobs available.

The report identified a clear opportunity for the industry to promote their packages and opportunities to progress, and the breadth of roles available in hospitality to young people.

The white paper also offers advice to support recruitment and retention by meeting these challenges and expectations, with employers encouraged to provide clear and useful information about jobs and their organisations, including salary ranges, opportunities for flexible working, and career development.

“For as long as I remember, our sector has battled with attraction and recruitment of young people," says Umbrella Training founder Adele Oxberry. “We’re hoping that the insights we have gathered will help shape how we as a sector behave in the future, and by taking the recommendations forward, create a pipeline of talent coming into our industry who see opportunities in the sector and will carry it into a bright future.”

Dr Maria Gebbels, programme leader MA Int. Tourism and Hospitality Management at the University of Greenwich and author of the white paper, added: “The future of this industry lies in its people. Employers need to begin to understand the expectations of this unique generation of talent to drive forward hospitality as a career of choice. That’s why research like this is crucial to understand their attitudes and behaviours towards our sector.”

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