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Rethinking recruitment to attract young talent into hospitality

The travel and tourism industry is the largest employer in the world.  It accounts for almost 10% of jobs globally, and it is expected to generate 73 million new jobs by 2022.  This projected growth is good news – not only for hotels and restaurants but also for the array of businesses in the hospitality supply chain. The International Labour Organization (ILO) estimates that every new job created in the hospitality industry supports 1.5 jobs along the supply chain, with a proportionate economic boost to local communities.  However, the industry’s potential to realise this growth – and all the benefits that go with it – hinges on its ability to attract the right skills to fill hundreds of thousands of new positions.  And therein lies the challenge.

The good news is that there is a solution, and it starts with young people.  Young men and women between the ages of 16 and 24 comprise the largest single talent pool available to us.  These young people have distinct expectations of the workplace and how to get there, and hospitality may not be their number one choice.  So how can businesses in the industry go about opening their eyes to the possibilities and encourage them to apply? With more than 71 million young people unemployed globally, the hospitality sector has a huge responsibility to do this.

Opening doors

The first step in encouraging the next generation to pursue a career in hospitality is educating them about the industry and the vast array of opportunities available. People often think that roles in hospitality are confined to front of house, catering and custodian positions.  It is our job to highlight the reality and communicate the fact that young people who aspire to work in engineering, property development, events, marketing, technology, finance and more can find what they’re looking for in hospitality.

One way to give millennials an insight into the industry and the breadth of roles available is to let them experience it for themselves.  Creating opportunities for them to see your business at close quarters and engage with your team can pay dividends.  We have had a lot of success with Careers@Hilton Week, our largest annual career awareness initiative, which is our way of showing the next generation what a career in hospitality is really like.  Since the initiative launched three years ago, our hotels and corporate offices have opened their doors to more than a quarter of a million young people with job fairs, career guidance talks and job shadowing. We find that attendees gain a stronger understanding of our business, which enables them to make an informed decision about where to work and what to apply for.

Using social media to communicate 

Social media also has a huge part to play in inspiring millennials and generation Z.  At Hilton, team members regularly take the reins of our Instagram and Snapchat channels to give prospective candidates an insight into what working with us is really like.

Offering more than money

Attracting young people also means offering the right kind of opportunities with the right kind of benefits. We need to take advantage of the amazing experiences and travel opportunities our industry provides. Our Team Member Travel Programme has been a huge success since launching last year, allowing all Team Members to stay in our hotels across the world at discounted prices. In terms of opportunities, entry points differ so the key is to provide as much variety as possible – offering the full suite of apprenticeships, internships, work experience, graduate positions and more to appeal to as many would-be recruits as possible.

Also, our recent research with the International Youth Foundation has shown that financial rewards are not millennials’ main motivator – job satisfaction is key. For this demographic that means flexibility, work/life balance and the ability to make an impact on their community and environment. Demonstrating this wider social commitment and emphasis on wellbeing is increasingly important.

Vive la différence

Having opened young people’s eyes to the opportunities, the next challenge is how to make it easy for them to apply and get hired.  Millennials aren’t like other generations.  These young people have distinct expectations of the workplace and how to get there.   They want things to happen much quicker and to know the outcome much sooner.  No long drawn-out recruitment processes for them!

One way to reach young recruits on their own terms is to bypass the job advert and application stage and go straight to a face-to-face meeting.  We find that speed-dating style events work well as you can quickly and easily see if a candidate is the right fit for your business – and vice versa.  It is also an opportunity for both sides to ask questions and to gauge where the individual might fit – without the need for several rounds of interviews.

Benefits for all

Attracting the skills our industry needs for growth is a never-ending challenge, and as an industry we need to show how varied and fulfilling a career in hospitality can be. Doing so is not only good for business, it is also good for young people, the industry and for society.

by Ben Bengougam, senior vice president, human resources, Europe, Middle East & Africa, Hilton

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