Visiting a hotel, attending an event or seeing friends and family working in hospitality and events are key motivators for young people pursuing careers in these sectors, research by Edge Hotel School has revealed.
Surveys of all current first and final year students at the school in Essex – which runs an accelerated two-year or a standard three-year bachelor’s degree in Hotel Management or Event Management while giving on-the-job training – revealed that many students had developed an interest in working in hospitality and events after experiencing them as guests or participants.
While a third of final year students at Edge Hotel School said they wanted to work in hospitality and events because it ‘opens doors to travel the world’, almost a quarter (24%) were inspired to pursue a career after attending an event or visiting a hotel.
Seeing family and friends working in the industry was also a motivator for 13% of first year students and 11% of final year students.
Very few final year students – just 5% – said they’d been encouraged by school careers advisors. This doubled for the latest cohort (10%). Results show that ‘exciting perks within the sector’ are also low drivers, enticing just 5% of final year students and 10% of first years.
Students of both years were also asked to comment on salary and career expectations. Although figures from the Office of National Statistics show UK wages have risen by an average of 6% in the last three months, the majority of hospitality students have realistic expectations of starting salaries.
Upon graduating from Edge Hotel School, 35% of final year students expect to earn between £21,000 and £25,000 per year, while 27% expect to earn less – between £18,000 and £21,000. Almost a quarter are expecting a salary between £25,000 and £29,000 while only 5% expect higher than £29,000.
The relatively low starting salaries may be balanced out by working hours expectations. More than half (55%) of final year students expect to work between 37 and 40 hours a week, while 27% expect to work between 40 and 45 hours. Only 10% think they’ll work for more than 45 hours a week. These statistics are similar for first year students.
Regardless of salaries and working hours, all employers of graduates will need to work hard on staff retention.
According to the survey, 44% of first year and 45% of final year students plan to move companies after 12-18 months of joining, while 41% of first years and 37% of final year students will make the move between 18 months and three years. The figures drop to 14% and 13% respectively for three to five years. Only 4% of final year students plan to stay with their first employer for more than five years and it isn’t a consideration for any first year students.
Employers may be able to stem losses by promoting staff before they consider leaving, however. Of graduates surveyed, 70% said they expected to be promoted within a year to 18 months of starting their first role.
Andy Boer, Principal of Edge Hotel School said: “The findings of our survey allow us to understand the perceptions and expectations of those who are about to, or planning to, work in the hospitality and events sectors. As well as helping us ensure they are gaining the right opportunities through their workplace training, the results also provide interesting insight for employers.
“Recruiting and retaining staff across both sectors has been challenging for many years, so understanding what the future workforce wants from its career, including how quickly they wish to progress and what they expect to be paid, should help in both areas.
“What is interesting, and useful for ensuring a future pipeline of talent coming through, is the identification of motivations for choosing hospitality and events as careers. Students say they have been inspired by visits to hotels and attending events, meaning there could be opportunities to showcase career opportunities to customers, like the scheme launched by the Manchester Hoteliers Association, in partnership with Greater Manchester schools last year.
“The campaign, which sees hotels paired up with schools to deliver talks and site visits, is designed to enthuse and encourage young people into hospitality, and is very much aligned with the findings from our survey.”
To find out more about Edge Hotel School, visit: https://www.wivenhoehouse.co.uk/the-edge-hotel-school/.