Sarah Hoyle: Having a Grand Old Time…

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Apprentices WeekThe hospitality industry is the fourth largest employer in the UK, with 4.49 million workers in total and almost 2 million people working in hotels and restaurants across the country.

It’s an ever-growing sector, and hospitality recruitment specialist People 1st has estimated that 993,000 new staff will be needed by 2022 – so it’s essential for hospitality businesses to explore all possible avenues when it comes to recruitment, including apprenticeships and school leavers.

Staff turnover in the industry can be as high as 31% (Deloitte – Hospitality 2015), compared to a national average of 13%. Of the 993,000 jobs that will need filling by 2022, 870,000 of those are simply replacements for existing staff.

For a hotel like The Grand, which has the additional challenge of being a fairly remote coastal location, we’ve recognised the need to invest in ‘home grown’ talent to fill these vacancies.

We have been strengthening our relationships with local education providers and developing community outreach programmes to encourage more people to get their first taste of the hospitality industry through work experience at The Grand.

Our aim is to build a recruitment pipeline beginning as young as 14 or 15, that starts with work experience and progresses through apprenticeships and casual contracts to full-time positions and career progression within the hotel.

We want to open young people’s eyes to how rewarding a career in hospitality can be, and we find that the majority of people who come to us do have their perceptions changed after completing a placement.

Our formal work experience programme began when a chef on work experience was so good we offered him a job on the spot – now we have a fully-developed programme, partnering with 12 local

secondary schools and two local colleges, that sees more than 60 people per year taking part in work experience placements, including current students, school leavers, individuals with learning difficulties and referrals from charities.

In 2016, we offered 60 people work experience at The Grand, equalling 232 days in total. In the first six months of 2017, a further 40 people joined us on work placements – a 33% increase on the same period in 2016. We also exceeded our targets for work experience in the kitchen (the hardest department to recruit for) with 50% of all placements including a kitchen rotation.

Our work experience programme has been accredited by Springboard INSPIRE since July 2016, and we were even named the hospitality training charity’s National Employer of the Month in October last year. We’ve also been shortlisted for the Springboard Inspire Award for Best Work Experience Provider for the second year running in 2017.

Chef recruitment is the hardest part of my job by far. Significant numbers of positions can be vacant at any one time, and that’s a problem being faced by hotels and restaurants across the board.

Apprenticeships and college referrals have been our greatest aids in chef recruitment for our two restaurants, which are run by a combined team of 26 chefs.

We’ve worked with Bournemouth & Poole College for the past 16 years on its Specialised Chefs programme, run in conjunction with the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts. Every year we take on a new student for a three-year apprenticeship, during which they receive the on-the-job training they need to be ready to enter the industry when they graduate. Some of our graduates have gone on to work in Michelin star restaurants across the country, while others remain in the kitchen team here at The Grand.

In 2016, we had seven apprentices in total working across different departments of the hotel, and this is a number we are looking to grow. With the introduction of the national Apprenticeship Levy, businesses now have a greater incentive than ever to take advantage of the benefits apprenticeship programmes can bring, as it’s a case of ‘use it or lose it’ with the levy that’s paid.

Apprenticeships aren’t just for new staff – we actually use them as a staff retention tool, as they are a great way to motivate existing employees and help them develop the skills they need to progress their careers.

Building a pipeline of talent doesn’t stop at apprenticeships – we support staff at all levels with funding professional qualifications and we actively encourage career progression within the hotel. For example, we had a kitchen porter join the team who spoke little English and had no career ambition, but by offering English lessons and a permanent contract, he was able to progress to a trainee chef position with The Grand covering the costs of his learning.

Nurturing talent resulted in 45 internal promotions in 2016 (accounting for a quarter of all staff) and 22 of our 23 heads of department have been promoted internally, providing great role models for our junior team.

Promoting internally can result in some members of staff missing essential skills building, but we bridge the gap by investing heavily in training for our aspiring managers, covering everything from recruitment and training to having difficult conversations, to develop people management skills.

The Grand’s work experience and apprenticeship programmes have played a pivotal role in reducing our annual staff turnover from 30% to 16% over a two-year period. Through our relationships with

local education providers, we are able to continue to attract young people onto work placements, inspiring the millennial generation, and ensuring the pipeline of talent continues for years to come.

 

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About Sarah Hoyle

Sarah Hoyle is Personnel & Development Manager at the 152-bedroom, five-star Grand Hotel in Eastbourne, part of the Elite Hotels group.

Prior to working at the Grand, Sarah enjoyed 15 years working in quality hotels in a variety of roles in food and beverage, reception, accounts and as front of house manager for a large five-star hotel.

Although Sarah has a love of hospitality ingrained in her, she discovered that training and developing her team was what really motivated her, and so she completed her CIPD qualification in HR before relocating to Eastbourne to pursue a role that sparked both of her passions – hospitality and people.

Promoted to Personnel and Development Manager in April 2015, Sarah has been working hard with her team to promote The Grand locally as a great place to work and improve the hotel’s employer brand. She has broadened links with local schools, colleges and charities and her proudest moment to date was the Grand being placed 13th in hospitality trade magazine The Caterer’s “Top 30 Best Places to Work in Hospitality”.

In her spare time, Sarah is fitness fanatic, having completed several marathons and half marathons.

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