A life choice: work or dole

14 June 2013
A life choice: work or dole

The first rung on the ladder is a huge step for those with a blank CV hoping to work inthe hospitality industry, says Pride of Britain CEO Peter Hancock

In May I was lucky enough to take part at a BHA event in Devon as part of the "Big Conversation" which has brought employers in hospitality together with the unemployed as never before.

My task was to interview a trio of young individuals living in one of the prettiest parts of England that also happens to be among the most seasonal in terms of trade. All displayed pleasant personalities and will, I am sure, become great assets to the businesses that secure their services.

Providing evidence of the great career progression our trade is able to offer were owners and managers from hotels in the region, including the evergreen Harry Murray of Lucknam Park, who acknowledged the importance of that first step on the ladder when a job is given to someone with no actual experience.

In fact several contributors told us that their rise to senior positions could not have happened without the helping hand of an employer who was willing to take a chance on someone with a blank CV. A number of business leaders pledged there and then to find work for jobseekers or to take on new apprentices, thereby creating that all-important first rung of the ladder.

But just as my spirits were beginning to soar with all this positive thinking, they were sunk by the comment of one unemployed young man who said an apprenticeship was not for him because it wouldn't pay as much as he was receiving on benefits. What future opportunities will his benefits bring? How will his CV be gilded by an even longer spell out of work?

It made me sad to think that anyone who has yet to get on the job ladder can refuse a potentially life-changing opportunity simply because of its impact on his spending power over the next few weeks. It also underlined the difference between our own country and those from which many of our best team players originate; countries such as Poland where access to benefits is extremely limited.

I can clearly remember joining the queue at the social security offices in Chichester on the day after I left school, only to walk out in disgust after about five minutes. I went for a pint then visited the jobcentre and asked about a position as a barman at Pontin's Holiday Camp. I was working that very night and since then have enjoyed 36 happy years of continuous employment in the hospitality industry so far.

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