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NURTURING TALENT4

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  1. 1. epmagazine.co.uk | 31 Nurturing talent | Trends ARE WE FACING THE HARD QUESTIONS ON TALENT? The industry often bemoans a lack of talent coming into the sector, but the talent is, without question, as good as ever and the real question is whether we are nurturing it as well as is possible? At the same time, there has for too long been a gap between industry and educationalists. Is it time to work harder to bring all together? F or too many years, the industry has argued over the same old questions. Now surely is the time for the industry to face up to the fact that maybe there is a need for greater work to be done in order to provide the answers to these long-debated questions. Before the arguments are made on the deep issues, there is a need to simply recognise that the industry has never been more popular and, therefore, has never had a better opportunity. The question must be – do we have the will to create change? The problems are deep but do need resolving. There are two core issues that need debate. The first is the gap between industry and education and the second is how the industry nurtures talent. In the modern world, there are new challenges and new methods. For too long there has been a gap between education and industry. Some people – on both sides – have just not been interested in solving the problem, but there are those who have not just worked hard but set a great example. Donald Sloan’s work at Oxford Brookes is one such example. He has created a mentoring programme with 90 industry mentors to work with students. There are other great examples too, but more still needs to be done. One of the arguments is that, in the UK at least, the education sector is not encouraged to really engage with industry. They are rewarded by their research and articles published in key journals. One can understand that research is important, but how much research by education can industry easily cite as great examples? One assumes that the focus on research and published articles is driven more by the pressure of funding rather than what is really needed and what is right – the development and nurturing of talent. Research and published articles should always be secondary to nurturing talent and engaging industry. One cannot talk about the skills shortages and then act in such a way. But it is happening, and this is created by a structure and system that is not placing at its heart what is most important. It is time not just for fine words but fine actions and the need is: •For education to ensure that it is really educating and preparing the future generations for industry •That it is nurturing the future, and does this mean closer interaction with actual operations and work experience? •To work closely with industry and to develop a strong, ongoing two-way narrative. This issue is the fault of a structure and system in need of change and that change can only be generated and created by a closer relationship between industry and education with talent at its heart. All need to work 1% harder to ensure we are giving back and preparing the ground for the future. International hotel schools act and think differently. Les Roches International School of Hotel Management in Switzerland has put the importance of learning by ‘doing’ at the heart of its strategy, alongside the theory taught in the classroom. It recently held a TEDx event, organised by the students and designed to ignite meaningful conversation and create a one-of-a-kind experience. “It is this freedom and the desire for inspiration and practical development that separates this generation from those before them,” says Matthieu Mioche, Global Career & Alumni Manager at Les Roches. “They are passionate for innovation and want to apply and be part of it. Students now have so many different clubs at the school and events they want to organise. They
  2. 2. epmagazine.co.uk | 33 Nurturing talent | TrendsNurturing talent | Trends 32 | EP Magazine | December 2015 recently organised the ‘Future of Hospitality Submit’, which was based on innovation and technology. New businesses and concepts were invited to speak and the students were super engaged by seeking sponsors for it.” Matthieu believes hospitality students still need the support of a classroom and teachers who can answer queries, but from this a growth of knowledge is achieved by grasping opportunities and taking on new challenges. “You need to make sure they don’t go in every direction, because they are young and can be a bit wild. By nurturing their talent, the outcome is absolutely amazing. I hope it’s going to continue.” This nurturing of talent is closely linked to retention, education and information. Professionals at any stage of their career need to be inspired, but those leading the way are often young people who, while seeking support, also want to be inspired. “I am surprised how many young people seek advisors and have such a great thirst for knowledge at their age,” says Matthieu. “They seek a mentor not only during their management training (held at businesses), but also in their first jobs.” This desire for a mentor who can provide inspiration is more obvious for those attending the best hospitality schools, “Les Roches makes sure every teacher is approachable and will offer advice if they can. There is no barrier,” continues Matthieu. “When I’m in the lobby and a student wants to talk to me, they come freely. That’s the difference with these hands-on schools because we are simply there for them, no matter what.” Matthieu points out it can be a difficult process at times, adding, “I tell them, ‘you have to look at the mentoring part’. A lot of schools are looking at this, especially with management position in a short time while also working in an area that appeals to them.” Matthieu argues one possible solution is placing young people in higher positions, saying, “I say to hotels, why not hire a young person and give them a shot? I have students who are ready to run departments, or do a good role in assistance positions.” Companies that don’t empower younger team members can restrict their personal growth and external mentors could provide the skills and experience needed for their future workplace. Asked his thoughts on this potential barrier, Matthieu says, “The company may provide training but personal development comes in many forms. Organising and motivating is so important because the transferable skills in this industry can be unique and getting inspired by those external to the industry, or in retail or charity, is key. Diversity is key.” For a person to grow, the connection between a company, mentor or alumni is very important. Matthieu believes it relies on two factors – trust and specialising in something. He says, “Students two years as best we can? This is important as current leaders have been in post longer than any previous generation. Ask any current CEO and they will tell you they held key posts in their mid-20s. In fact, out of a sample of 50 industry chairmen, more than 70% held their first board director post by the age of 35. Would that happen today? Far less likely. One of the common criticisms is that due to the rise of technology and instant information, many of those that have come through the industry do not have the same sense of accountability and drive as previous generations. But maybe change is needed? Learning certainly needs to change. In our experience, those coming through today are easily the match of any of the previous generation. They are passionate, intelligent, committed, and ambitious but want to learn in a different way. In terms of knowledge and intelligence, they are arguably ahead of previous generations. What they may lack is ‘how to think in action’ – how to think on one’s feet and solve problems. This can only be created through both experience and being placed in accountable positions – and being held to account. But it can also come through a better approach to educating emerging talent on how to think differently, how to problem solve and what to focus on. This can be created by good mentoring systems, such as the one by Oxford Brookes. But companies need to look at how their leaders can work better in nurturing the talent that is coming through. The leaders possess the knowledge, so the question is how should this knowledge be communicated to the next generation. It is time to put the old debates to one side and work together for answers. If we have not found the solutions in the last 20 years – and many of the debates have been going on for that long – then it reflects badly on industry. So there is work to be done and answers to be found. The real solution lies in communication and engagement. It is about people giving back and recognising that it is a duty to mentor and nurture. The talent is there and it is asking for help. The answer lies in our own hands and it is time we worked a bit harder to solve the problems and to leave a greater legacy. an alumni network. It is not easy because you have to ask mentors within the alumni to give their own time, but this is what the new generation needs.” A mentor provides advice based on their own life experiences and will become part of the individual’s network. Matthieu explains it cannot just be those from hospitality schools who have access to a fantastic array of mentors in the alumni. Students now look at companies who have the same values as those offered by schools like Les Roches. “Young people can use the internet to find out more than ever before, and if open minded, they can grow through freedom but still with supervision,” says Matthieu. “They know that sometimes with older managers they will not receive the response needed for progression. Some companies can empower employees but others are fairly rigid and they recognise that career progression can take a long time and simply won’t apply for a position there.” Investing in an employee’s development must be demonstrated, as some are choosing to enter other industries. They desire a quick return on investment following their studies and are often given a freedom that a traditional hierarchical hotel wouldn’t offer. However, Matthieu believes this is not necessarily a negative for the industry. If they are still able to learn and keep in touch with the industry they can still re-enter. One of the fast-moving industries that Matthieu has noticed appealing to many is retail. “Retail will focus on areas that hospitality struggles to do, such as sustainability,” he says. “The retail industry, which can be technically more powerful than hospitality, will often have whole departments focused on this subject. Young people know they can quickly climb the ladder and achieve a ago told me ‘I want to do events’ and I would tell them events is a large area, would you prefer incentive, leisure, conference? Now the trend is ‘I want to do consultancy’ – and I ask them, what do you want to consult in?” This consultancy must be specialised. “Students can become confused by a mentor who is too generalised. In recruitment, I can help because that’s what I specialise in. To stay up to date and gain more knowledge, people must go into the field and at times seek support from independents.” Matthieu raises some good points. The truth is, for those outside the top hospitality schools, no one really tells them about their career and at any time in their career, people will need to learn new things. Matthieu provides this support at Les Roches, but others may have a more difficult time. Some will fall back on their natural talents, but to achieve greatness, more investment is needed. An independent external voice can provide this and help people learn from their weaknesses, instead of running from them. At the same time one has to ask, are we really nurturing the talent in our industry “Organisingandmotivatingissoimportantbecause thetransferableskillsinthisindustrycanbeuniqueand gettinginspiredfromthoseexternaltotheindustry,or inretailorcharity,iskey.Diversityiskey ”Matthieu Mioche Les Roches International School of Hotel Management Oxford Brookes University is one of the best examples of nurturing talent in the industry. Mentoring, as seen here, is an essential part of the training process with sessions from experts in their fields sharing their knowledge with students

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