Michael Caines calls for restaurants in the South West to join forces to beat youth unemployment

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The majority of young people in the South West would not consider a career in hospitality, despite the sector’s economic importance in the region, research from Livebookings reveals today. Michelin chef Michael Caines has urged local hospitality businesses to demonstrate their technology credentials, to attract more young people and future proof the industry.

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The majority of young people in the South West would not consider a career in hospitality, despite the sector’s economic importance in the region, research from Livebookings reveals today. Michelin chef Michael Caines has urged local hospitality businesses to demonstrate their technology credentials, to attract more young people and future proof the industry.

In the same month the government launched its £1bn scheme to get more young people into jobs, a study of 18 to 24 year olds in the South West finds that in the case of the region’s hospitality sector, the problem is not lack of availability of jobs but a disconnect between the jobs offered and what local young people want.

Of 500 questioned in the study, the majority (63%) of young adults said they would not consider hospitality as a career option. A third (33%) felt their skills would be better suited to an office environment ‘with modern technology’. Others said they don’t consider hospitality to be a forward-looking sector (22%) and that they didn’t see a clear career progression in it (22%).

Meanwhile, of the 37% that would consider a career in hospitality, a third say that the main obstacle to getting the job they want is firms not recognising the transferable skills young people have, such as knowledge of new technology. As a result, they think hospitality employers don’t appreciate how taking on a young person could benefit the business.

Michael Caines, the two-star Michelin chef who was awarded an MBE in 2006 for services to the hospitality industry, thinks the problem is one of misconception:

“The relevance of technology in a hospitality role isn’t instantly clear to the generation of young adults now entering the workplace, who have grown up with the internet and who almost all own smartphones. But in fact, the majority of restaurants, bars and hotels have a clear commitment to marketing themselves online, and responding to changing consumer behaviour by taking internet and mobile bookings. My Exeter restaurant alone takes 14% of all online bookings through a mobile device.”

Michael, who spoke to many of the region’s leading restaurants at the Exeter Festival of South West England Food & Drink adds that in turn, hospitality businesses need to realise the value of employing young people:

“Employing young people will future proof the hospitality industry, which remains one of the key sectors in our region. Young adults are the future customers that hotels and restaurants want to target, and having them on the staff helps businesses understand the opportunities of things like smartphone devices.”

When asked how the hospitality industry could increase its appeal as a career path for young people, nearly half of respondents said young employees should be offered tasks that appeal to their personal strengths, such as helping with setting up a website, social media profile or mobile marketing campaign.

Colin Tenwick, CEO of Livebookings, the European leading provider of online restaurant reservations, who commissioned the research: “The Trencherman's Guide is testament to the wealth of great restaurants situated in the South West. We know that the hospitality sector is hugely competitive and restaurants need to innovate and keep up with the latest technologies to keep driving customers through the door. The exponential growth of mobile and online restaurant bookings is set to continue in 2012, so it’s important that local restaurateurs embrace this technology to make their business more efficient, and importantly attract new talent, particularly younger people in the region, to a fast-growing industry.”

About Livebookings

Livebookings makes restaurants and diners click. We operate the world’s only global, web-based restaurant reservations and marketing service, delivering over one million diners every month to over 9,000 restaurants including, Tantris, East, Grill and Aquavit. Our reservations tools enable restaurants to provide their diners with a free, easy-to-use online bookings service, to manage those reservations efficiently and to collect valuable customer data. Our marketing services ensure restaurants can run promotions and deals and execute online marketing campaigns to attract and retain their customers.

Our consumer restaurant reservations website, Bookatable.com, is Europe's fastest growing online restaurant booking website, operating in 9 different languages and across 19 countries. It supports our unparalleled network of 300 distribution partners, including lastminute.com, Salir.com and Eniro.se, to ensure we can spread news of deals far and wide and help our restaurant customers attract new business.

Headquartered in London, with offices across Europe and the USA and customers in 23 countries, Livebookings is the largest online reservations provider in Europe, focused on making restaurants more profitable and dining out more pleasurable.

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David Miller