The next generation of industry professionals

Future planning is important in any industry, but with youth unemployment at an all-time high in Australia, and accommodation having one of the highest employee turnovers of any industry, it’s important for hotels to consider who will be managing and working in the hotels of the future.

A recent research report titled After the ATAR: Understanding How Gen Z Transition into Further Education & Employment, undertaken by Year 13 and YouthSense, looks at how young Australians are transitioning into the workforce. In the report’s foreword, co-founder of year 13, Will Stubley, said:

“The complexities surrounding youth engagement in both high school and beyond is multifaceted. However, we believe that significantly more can be done by employers, educators and government to effectively engage youth Australians.”

The report states that, at present, 580,000 young Australians qualify as Not in Employment, Education or Training (NEETs). It also reported that in order to tackle the issue, it is integral that employers build initiatives and communication strategies that increase young people’s engagement with and accessibility to jobs.

According to the Australian Government Department of Employment’s Accommodation and Food Services Industry Outlook report, young employees make up a considerable percentage of the industry’s total workforce, with the median age for accommodation and food services being 27 years, and 43 percent of workers aged between 15 and 24. With predominance of lower skilled occupations in the industry, 63.4 percent of workers employed in accommodation and food services have a level of educational attainment of Year 12 or below, with approximately one third of employees studying and working part time. Considering these figures, and the demographic of workers, it’s important for hotels to be prepared to employ and train those transitioning out of high school or university, and into the accommodation industry.

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According to the Department of Employment’s report, the recruitment rate in the accommodation and food services industry is double the average across all industries, showing 28 vacancies per 100 staff. Some 15 percent of employers in the industry reported that staff retention was a challenge. Inability to fill roles, or fill roles to a high standard, is partly due to skills shortages.

How to prepare

Here are just a few ways you could consider recruiting, supporting, training and retaining young staff members:

  1. Offer apprenticeships where appropriate. While a number of hotel or food service positions don’t require formal training or qualifications, apprenticeships are an option for some roles. Consider offering apprenticeships to kitchen staff, or having a management cadet program for those seeking management experience. Internships are another great way to give young workers a taste of the industry.
  2. Offer training for unskilled positions. Just because a position doesn’t require a qualification or training doesn’t mean it’s not helpful. Training is an integral part of not only welcoming a staff member to the team, and settling them into a new workplace environment, but also in assisting them to perform to the best of their ability for the benefit of your hotel. Training can get a bad wrap, and a reputation for being boring – so ensure that it’s interactive, empowering and motivational for trainees.
  3. Set employment standards and stick to them. Staff retention comes down to a number of factors, with one such factor being the employment of suitably skilled staff members. Due to limited transferability of some skill sets, or lack of employee options, accommodation and food service providers often settle for an employee with a skillset that is not ideally suited to a position. While this is necessary in some cases, ensure that you set and keep employment standards for important positions. For example, if you require an apprenticeship-trained chef, don’t settle for someone who has completed a string of short courses in lieu of a full qualification.
  4. Offer mentoring to new staff members. Mentoring is a cheap and efficient way of checking in with new or young staff members and ensuring they are coping in the workplace. Ensure you provide them with a safe space to express any concerns, ask questions, or provide feedback on their position.
  5. Value wellbeing. According to the Year 13 and YouthSense report, it’s important for youth to enjoy their chosen job or field, and to feel supported in it. The study states that one 18-year-old female said: “People aren’t going to support you as much as they did in school. Employers are generally cold and apathetic and don’t cater to those with mental illness.” Retaining staff, and having staff who are willing and excited to participate in staff training and development exercises, comes down to employees’ job satisfaction. By valuing employees physical and mental wellbeing in the workplace, they are likely to feel more valued as members of staff.

How do you ensure you’re recruiting, training and retaining young staff to the best of your ability? Tell us in the comments below.

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