With natural flair and ambition, young people can carve out a very rewarding and successful career in the hospitality industry, even without qualifications.
Unfortunately, there is still a perception that the sector is the “poor relative” in the world of work, which is nonsense. With youth unemployment a major issue, entering a sector with unlimited possibilities is something that should be further encouraged.
Teachers should be giving pupils the push they need to get into a job that is on an equal par with many other more promoted or mainstream careers. I would advise young people to consider whether or not they like working with people – the job constantly changes, no two days are the same, and you find out very quickly if it’s the right fit for you or not.
Over the past decade, a greater spectrum of jobs has become available. The perception was that roles were limited to receptionist, or manager or in the food area, but digital technology has created jobs in revenue management, marketing, PR, IT and accounting and online booking. Work experience is key. I have been chairman of the Hospitality Industry Trust for 13 years and we’ve worked to raise money through events and networking opportunities to put back into the industry, which in turn has helped give young people opportunities to gain experience in a wide range of settings – from five-star hotels, to working in Dubai, to attending Cornell University in the United States.
The financial apprenticeships and bursaries available through the Scottish Government are a step in the right direction, but we need to take it up a gear to make a significant and worthwhile impact on youth unemployment.
With the amount of growth that will take place for the tourism industry over the next few years, businesses should be taking full advantage to help young people. VisitScotland’s The Winning Years, the 2014 Commonwealth Games and the Ryder Cup are just some of the examples of how Scotland will flourish and this opportunity should be grasped with both hands.
• Stephen Carter OBE is managing director of Cameron House on Loch Lomond.