June 2021 is a special month for me, as it marks my first two years as a consultant at TAF (15 months of which during a global pandemic).
For those who don’t know me already, I would describe myself as follows:
- One of the few UK female consultants;
- A member of the LGBTQ+ community;
- A British citizen by naturalisation.
I’ve been living in London for over 10 years and worked in hospitality throughout my whole career. I love this industry and I am not planning on leaving it anytime soon. I only wish more people felt the same.
Since indoor hospitality reopened on May 17th, we’ve been hearing worrying news about hospitality staff shortages across the country. A recent survey by UK Hospitality revealed that the vacancy rate across the sector is 9% – a total shortage of circa. 190,000 workers, especially in Front of House and Chef positions. *1
And why would that be? Obvious reasons aside – Brexit and a global pandemic causing people to go back to their countries of origin or changing sector altogether – there’s a more deeply rooted issue within British society (and many others): hospitality has never been considered a “career of choice”.
Hospitality is one of the industries with the highest turnover and is perceived by the general public as “unskilled”. For younger UK generations, hospitality is usually a stopgap career and for foreigners, it represents the proverbial “foot in the door” while getting used to life in a different country. I believe that’s simply unfair.
A career in hospitality deserves as much care and attention as any other sector, both from an employer and employee point of view. It should not mean stressfully long hours and poor working conditions, it should not mean low pay rates, it should not mean precarious contracts.
The point I am trying to make is very simple: I am living proof that focus, commitment and resilience go a long way, and you can really achieve your self-actualisation goals in this wonderful industry.
Focus. Commitment. Resilience. Interesting word choice. Why? Because that’s exactly what the contract catering world (and each of the 40 caterers in our network) demonstrated during these challenging times. They shaped the future of the workplace catering industry (more on this later).
It was an absolute delight to resume non-project related site visits a couple of weeks ago, meeting again face to face with the best and the brightest, the engine of our industry.
What did TAF Catering Consultancy do in return? To answer this question, I’d like to borrow TAF’s mission statement: listening, collaborating, delivering.
- We listened | We listened to our clients, supporting them throughout and helping them answer the questions: “How has the market changed? How does it look like today? What do we do next with our foodservices?” The nature of our work has changed as a result, and we are engaging more and more with senior stakeholders, to establish at a corporate level what food/foodservices mean to them and a baseline for a more fit-for-purpose approach to deliver relevant, reliable and timely catering services contracts.
- We collaborated | We embraced the “virtual world” and engaged with caterers (having regular conversations at least three times a year), fellow consultants, specialist collaborators (from executive chefs to HR experts) and industry publications – writing thought-provoking articles, trying to make sense of it all.
- We delivered | Originally focussing on London corporate organisations by choice, TAF adapted and evolved too, taking on several new projects for essential services clients – none in London and none in B&I. Tracey and I strongly believe a brighter future awaits for all of us, and we look forward to keep breaking the boundaries of traditional consultancy, making our mark along the way.