Hospitality career aspirations too hot to handle Michelin awarded chef and former Great British Menu star Tom Aikens joins forces with to champion hospitality careers

By Steve Williams

Hospitality career aspirations too hot to handle | Recruiter Blog

As the talent crisis worsens for the hospitality industry, our recent research revealed a staggering 97% of school aged children and recent school leavers across the UK have already written off working in hospitality roles in hotels, bars and restaurants as a career option.

Diminished food related subject offerings at school, negative perceptions of the hospitality industry around hours and pay, and the influence of parents, careers advisors and teachers, are directly impacting aspirations to enter the industry according to the leading hospitality jobs board. In fact, the majority (89%) of secondary students say their school has given them no information about careers in hospitality and almost a third (30%) of students across the country don’t have access to any sort of food subject offering.

A lack of information on potential career opportunities and misperceptions have led to almost half (48%) of recent school leavers aged 18-24 years old viewing hospitality jobs as no more than a temporary role and a further third (35%) say the industry offers no career progression.

The research highlights the vital need to change perceptions and increase education about the wide range of long-term career prospects in the hospitality industry to stop young talent passing it off as a temporary and unambitious career choice.

The youngest British chef to be awarded a Michelin Star, Tom Aikens, has partnered with to challenge the common misconceptions young people and their parents might have of the industry and encourage those contemplating their career choice to consider a role in hospitality.

Tom Aikens, Michelin Star Chef and business owner at Tom’s Kitchen, said: “Hospitality is an exciting, vivacious industry that has meant I am practising my passion every day, surrounded by incredibly creative colleagues. I know at my restaurants I am constantly looking for the next stars in the industry and struggling to find the skillset we need due to the drop of new talent emerging from the education system – despite the work done by the industry to attract entry level talent.

“It’s a career that offers such diversity: from floor to sous chef, from logistical prowess to creative ambition. My own career has taken me from working with incredible luminaries like Pierre Koffman, Richard Neat and Joel Robuchon; all the way to be the owner of my first restaurant. What other industry can offer you such mentorship followed by such opportunity?”

Nurturing future hospitality stars

Not to be deterred by a lack of encouragement from schools, nearly a third (34%) of secondary students said a career in hospitality would be an attractive path and almost one in five (18%) said working in a restaurant or being a chef would be fun. However, the research revealed a need to bridge the gap between these aspirations and the number of young people entering the industry.

Over two in five (44%) of primary and nearly one in five (17%) secondary school students say food subjects are not available to them, despite 82% and 62% of primary and secondary students, respectively, saying they would take up a food related subject if it was available. Despite the high interest in food related subjects, the majority (86%) of secondary students say they’re in the dark about the hospitality industry and the range of careers it offers with only one in ten (11%) given advice on entering the industry from their schools and careers advisors.

Parents to play a bigger role in encouraging young people to enter the industry

It’s not just schools and government who need to encourage young people to enter the industry.’s research revealed only one in four (24%) parents of school aged children would encourage their child to pursue a hospitality career, despite the majority (83%) saying it’s important that food related subjects are learnt at school.

With almost three in ten (29%) parents with school aged children admitting they have the most influence on their child’s career choices, is supporting hospitality employers to address misconceptions about the industry and encouraged young talent to pursue life-long, successful careers in hospitality.

Neil Pattison, Director at said:The strong interest that young people have in learning about food, cooking and nutrition, is a fantastic opportunity for the industry and its vital that they are engaged at the earliest age. We work closely with employers to ensure they showcase their brands and the amazing opportunities they can offer from entry level up, so that young people and experienced candidates alike can realise their career aspirations within the sector. It’s crucial to demonstrate the wide range of long-term development opportunities on offer, and to highlight inspiring success stories like Tom’s.

“The diminished food related subject offering in schools, parents’ misconceptions about the industry in terms of working hours and pay, and the gap in clear advice from careers advisors are deterring creative and ambitious young people from entering the industry. We need the government to enhance the way in which hospitality is delivered as a subject in schools to help support these ambitions and ensure the next great industry talents are not lost. Alongside this, employers in the industry themselves can take matters into their own hands, by communicating directly with young people, parents and teachers the full reality of opportunity in the sector.”

More than 28,000 new hospitality roles were made available on last month, having increased by 36% over the last two years. Entry level talent can try their hand at the industry with 4,400 Commis chef roles, 17,383 catering staff roles, 9,932 pub and bar staff and 21,653 waiter jobs available. There are also numerous ‘earn-while-you-learn’ pathways into the industry through colleges and apprenticeships that provide practical training and skills development at the start of a career.

Summary of our findings 

Listen to Tom Aikens on TalkRADIO discussing our findings with Matthew Wright: