Giving young people skills for a World of Opportunity
What’s it like to be a young person who found their feet thanks to the hospitality industry?
We know that hotels all around the world can help young people find jobs, a stable life and income, an escape from poverty and a boost to their self esteem, that’s why ITP created the Youth Career Initiative.
Luke Robson works at the Grosvenor House, A JW Marriott Hotel and was given the opportunity via Marriott’s partnership with the Prince’s Trust and their Get into Hospitality programme
“Before the scheme I was unemployed and signing on at the job centre, I was 25 at the time living with my parents in north west London. I’d studied both carpentry and music technology at college and had worked various jobs from office jobs to on building sites.
I was referred to the scheme by my advisor at the job centre and I gave it a try because I was really keen to find employment. I was hoping it would help me start a career.
The hospitality industry wasn’t something I’d considered before and if someone had asked me before joining the course, I would have said that hotels weren’t really where I saw myself in the future but I’d give anything a go.
My first day was quite nerve-wracking, meeting lots of new people and trying to get through to the next stage of the course but I still had fun. My first thought was how amazing the building was and then how helpful everyone was with trying to get us into employment.
During the course I got to work in almost every department of the hotel. I met so many new faces, learnt a lot about all the different sections needed to make the hotel run smoothly and gained some insight as to which departments I enjoyed the most. My favourite part was actually working in the kitchen (although I wouldn’t want to work their full time) - it was awesome to see how a professional kitchen works.
I'm a people person so hospitality is definitely a good fit for me. It made me see how much hard work goes into things behind the scenes. I most like the sense of community within the hotel departments and being able to interact with different and new people every day.
I ended up getting a job at Grosvenor House because the manager of the Conference and Banqueting department asked me to complete the second half of the course with them and afterwards offered me a job in that department. It felt great to be given an opportunity to succeed and it’s changed my life.
I now have a steady income, I can afford to do and buy things I like and can look forward to building a future for myself. I hope to keep learning and growing and eventually find a position within the hotel that fits me perfectly.
I think most people don’t truly understand what goes into a job in hospitality as it can be quite hard to explain to someone who hasn’t seen or experienced it. In my opinion, the best way to change people’s perception is to get as many people through the doors as possible, whether through work experience, training or something similar so they can see first-hand how the industry runs.
For anyone looking for a job, I’d say just keep trying. You never know where a life changing opportunity may come from. No matter how many times you get a "no", it only takes one "yes" to make the difference. Use any resources possible – the internet, job centre, agencies, recruitment websites etc. and make sure you have a good CV and are willing to make some sacrifices to achieve your goals."
Mark Dayer works at the Glasgow Marriott Hotel.
Mark spent most of his childhood in care. At 16, the Glasgow Marriott Hotel gave him a chance to turn his life around when they recognised his potential and offered him a job via their Career Apprenticeship programme. Since then, Mark has tried several different positions within the hotel’s Food & Beverage department before deciding to become a Hotel Engineer. He is now training at the hotel as an engineering apprentice.
Green Hotelier: Describe a little bit about your life before you joined the employability scheme. E.g. age, location, background, school / employment before the scheme etc.
Mark: I was 16 years old, living in a care home. I stopped going to school in the first year of secondary school and was getting up to mischief.
GH: What brought you to the scheme?
Mark: My careers advisor suggested it to me. My brother had done a similar programme [Care Leaver Programme] and had got a job at the end of it so I thought I would give it a try.
GH: Was the hospitality industry something you’d ever considered before? Before you came to the hotel, if someone had said ‘why not work in a hotel?’ what would you have thought?
Mark: Probably not. I wasn’t sure what direction to go in, and I didn’t then understand that there was so much more to hospitality than just serving food and drink.
GH: What was your first day like? What were your first thoughts?
Mark: I was nervous!
GH: Describe your time on the scheme: what did you see, what did you learn, what did you enjoy?
Mark: I learnt so much during my time on the scheme, I had to learn to take responsibility and work with a team to get things done.
GH: What most surprised you about your time at the hotel?
Mark How much I progressed, and that I looked forward to coming to work every day.
GH: What made you think you might like to consider a career in the hospitality industry?
Mark: I really enjoyed it. I met lots of new people. Getting my first wage - it was real life. Now every day is different and I still get to meet new people.
GH: How did you end up getting a job there? How did that feel?
Mark: I was offered a part-time job and I felt brilliant - really proud of myself.
GH: How has the scheme changed your life now? What do you hope for the future?
Mark: I have so many more skills than I did before, I have my own house and car, and I even met my girlfriend at work.
GH: What do you think hotel employers need to do to change (young) people’s perceptions of the industry? How can they help make it more appealing?
Mark: Show them what it is like - I’ve never come across anything like the programmes provided at Glasgow Marriott Hotel.
GH: What would you say to someone looking for an opportunity to get into work but who isn’t sure where to start / where to look?
Mark: Hotels are great. There are loads of opportunities for people to progress and get good experience and learn new skills.
Nicola Staff works at the JW Marriott Grosvenor House
After being unemployed for nearly four years, Nicola Staff took part in The Prince’s Trust’s Get into Hospitality scheme, and was later hired by JW Marriott Grosvenor House, , as a commis chef. Nicola had struggled previously with cancer and mental health issues. Her story was covered in the London Evening Standard, and HRH The Prince of Wales wrote to her personally to congratulate her on her bravery and success.
“Before I tried the Get Into Hospitality course I was 23 years old, back living with my parents in London after a spell of homelessness and going through a second breakdown. Life was very hard.
Having tried to engage in a number of organisations which proved fruitless, my dad discovered The Prince's Trust and the work they do. It was a last resort as my age was against me and I was feeling uninspired, but I gave it my best shot because all I really needed was someone to see what I can do and give me a break.
I have been interested in working in the hospitality industry since I was 14, and I have worked in many establishments in various roles. I think it was always something I wanted to do and the hotel scene definitely appealed to me more than, say, a restaurant. But overtime I probably fell out of love with it. I was skeptical at first but I just needed to reignite the flame, so to speak, and rediscover why I love it.
At the very beginning, I was so anxious that I very nearly didn't even attend the induction course and was even advised to wait until I was feeling more stable. After I found the courage to stay and participate, I started to find my confidence. I felt safe and not judged. I felt like I could be open and honest and I'd still be accepted.
The placement was so great. I met lots of interesting and diverse people. I enjoyed being part of a team all working towards one common goal. I enjoyed getting to know the people behind the scenes, their jobs, their lives and what their jobs entailed. I discovered there is a lot more skills and departments to a hotel than anyone would guess.
What I found most inspiring about the placement and beyond was the diversity of people and backgrounds. All walks of life join forces to make something work. Up until the placement, I didn't know precisely what I wanted to do, but I knew absolutely I didn't want to be a chef. The biggest surprise for me continues to be how much I loved the kitchen and where that has taken me.
I thrived on my placement, gave it my all, and took up opportunities to try new things and broaden my horizons. I asked to extend my four week placement and I approached HR for a job as a pastry chef. I was elated, like I was finally good enough.
This is the longest job I've ever had. The people are supportive and accepting. I've gone from not having faith in myself, not living, to dreaming and dreaming big. I would love to advance my skills, and my professional and personal development. My next goal is to do a stint in France to learn about patisserie.
People's perceptions of hospitality are low. They think it’s largely poorly paid and long hours, but there are opportunities to learn and grow. Hotels need to raise media awareness. Go into schools to tell students about hospitality careers, offer extra classes for coaching and waitressing skills.
To others looking for a beginning I advise them to say yes to every opportunity. Even unpaid work can lead to paid work!