BrewDog among supporters of hospitality industry recruitment ad campaign

UK Hospitality is also backing the initiative.

Recruitment: McCulloch (left) and McDowall are partnering on the project
Recruitment: McCulloch (left) and McDowall are partnering on the project

The hospitality industry is uniting for a recruitment campaign that will encourage people to work in the sector, which has been badly hit by the Covid-19 pandemic.

After a difficult year, in which the industry was affected by Brexit and the coronavirus crisis, there is now a "staff drought". Analysis by industry association UK Hospitality suggests a current vacancy rate across the sector of 9% – which implies a shortage of 188,000 workers

Mark McCulloch, founder and chief executive of specialist hospitality agency Supersonic, was inspired to help solve the problem after seeing a tweet from David McDowall, president and chief operating officer of BrewDog. The tweet pointed out the "deep-rooted issue" of how the sector is viewed as a long-term career option, and how it attracts and rewards great people.

After a call to action on social media, the pair have been joined by more than 150 hospitality operators and UK Hospitality to spearhead a recruitment campaign that aims to showcase hospitality as a viable long-term career.

McCulloch is seeking the right brand building agency to help bring the project to life, which will include a multiplatform campaign that can "change the perceptions of the hospitality industry forever" and will be an "absolute assault on your senses".

McCulloch admires recent British Army recruitment campaigns and wants to portray the hospitality sector in a similar light as an interesting and exciting career.

The next step will be to source funding for the campaign. Businesses that often spend "hundreds of thousands of pounds to put a plaster on the issue" will be asked to contribute. Seeking government backing is also an option. 

The campaign, which hopes to be launched as soon as the fourth quarter of the year, will target a range of people from those seeking their first job, individuals with transferable skills and anyone looking to retrain. It will also celebrate the operators who have a forward-thinking, progressive approach.

McDowall said: "Unfortunately, all too often the people who are most important in this industry – those who look after guests, day in, day out, working in our bars, restaurants and kitchens – are treated as if they are the least important, least valuable part of the equation.

"The truth is, it is those people who are building our brands and businesses, every single day. If hospitality creates a great environment for people to work in, potential recruits will see us as a credible long-term career choice."