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How Undergraduate Schemes Help Nurture Talent in the Hospitality Industry By Anton Constantinou

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Hospitality companies are crying out for young talent. Right now, a skills shortage exists in the industry which hospitality employers can exploit with the introduction of more youth-friendly programmes. Young people aged 16 to 24 represent the single largest talent pool available in the market, and one of the best ways to harness this demographic is through undergraduate schemes.

Undergraduate schemes give young people the opportunity to enter companies at junior-level and progress through a structured programme involving both hands-on and academic training. They benefit both the employer and the candidate, and help create an environment of inclusivity.

Most undergraduate schemes are typically a year in length and are available only to students on sandwich courses. Such schemes often take the form of internships or work experience assignments, in which young people are invited utilise the skills they’ve gained at university with a view to increasing their employability.

While undergraduate schemes vary from company to company, the central focus is nearly always the same: learning and development. Where traditional candidates fail, placement students bring energy and fresh ideas. All that young blood can do wonders in lifting the morale of your workforce, particularly if you’re the type of business that’s customer facing – as many hospitality companies are.

In hiring undergraduate students, hospitality companies can tap into new skillsets and innovations. You as an employer have a very real opportunity to nurture today’s youth and personally see to it that talent doesn’t go to waste. Many undergraduate students are highly motivated and take to tech-related activities brilliantly. They are also a great magnet for attracting other candidates.

As most undergraduate students tend to remain with companies for a year, they often become very well-integrated. That level of stability is shown to boost retention levels, and may encourage other members of staff to remain with you for longer. The hospitality industry is notorious for its high turnover, but a simple placement scheme can really help buck that trend.

The HBAA has an impressive youth programme in place which gives young people the opportunity to work in specific parts of its members’ businesses. The apprenticeship scheme runs in conjunction with the training and development organisation, Realise, and serves the purpose of plugging a gap for entry-level talent.

SilverDoor Apartments has found similar success with its own placement scheme, which is now 10 years in the running. Part of the SilverDoor Academy, it offers candidates all the benefits of permanent employment, and a chance to return to SilverDoor later down the line. Many of our placement students have gone on to become permanent members of staff, and still remain with us in a senior management capacity.

This year, we welcomed 11 new placement students to the company, who in as little as two months, have hit the ground running. Their efforts have really helped our productivity, as well as brought a renewed sense of energy and excitement to our offices. We actively encourage other hospitality employers to follow by our example in the hope that undergraduate schemes become more widespread in our industry.

As Marcus Angell, Owner and Director of SilverDoor notes: “I can say with confidence that candidates with practical and demonstrable experience are better placed and more attractive to potential employers than those who simply have a good academic record.”

The current SilverDoor placement students have already starred in a recent video which offers advice for future members of the SilverDoor Academy: