Sussex school hosts inspiring careers talk to promote hospitality as a rewarding career path

Hazelwick School in Crawley is encouraging pupils to think differently about careers in hospitality. It recently welcomed Nestlé Professional’s® Managing Director, Katya Simmons, and one of the industry’s rising culinary stars, 19 year old Chef de Partie, Elycia Rayner. The duo shared more about the career paths and opportunities available for school leavers.

The careers workshop – delivered across two sessions – was part of a nationwide programme designed to improve the perceptions of the industry after research published by Nestlé Professional® revealed negative stereotypes such as ‘unskilled roles’, a ‘lack of careers’ and ‘limited progression opportunities’ are preventing young people from considering a career in the sector1. That’s despite 62% of young people working in the industry saying they love their role.

Hazelwick School is one of the first schools in the UK to benefit from the new nationwide Choose Hospitality Pledge programme. More than 600 students from its Year 9 and 10 cohort attended both sessions, where they were able to learn about the industry’s many career pathways, fast progression rates and the competitive salaries on offer.

Mr. Salmon, Head of Year 9 at Hazelwick School said: “The Year 9 students thoroughly enjoyed the presentation from Katya and Elycia. One aspect that was extremely apt to hear was the importance of good people skills in terms of characteristics employers are seeking. This reinforces messages that Year 9 students have heard throughout the Dare 2 Dream Project- ‘people employ people’.”

Katya Simmons, Managing Director, Nestlé Professional, said: “Young people need greater visibility of the real breadth of exciting career opportunities in hospitality, as well as the fast progression they can make within the industry. The Choose Hospitality Pledge initiative was set up to achieve just that.

“I really enjoyed my time visiting Hazelwick School; the students were engaged, showed lots of enthusiasm and asked lots of great questions. I hope we were able to make a positive impact, and I thank the school for their time and interest in wanting to promote hospitality careers to their students.

After graduating from Westminster College in December 2023 with a Level 3 in professional cookery, Elycia Rayner now works as Chef de Partie at Oxford University. She said: “Hospitality has a fantastic support system to help young people grow and flourish. I’ve had first-hand experience of this through competing in a variety of industry competitions, including Nestlé Professional’s Toque d’Or in 2023.

“I love hospitality and couldn’t recommend the industry more in terms of the overall work experience, the people you meet, the opportunities to progress, the list goes on. With just a bit of hard work and dedication you are able to learn a huge amount in such a short space of time. It was a pleasure to be able to share my experience and journey with so many students – who are only a few years’ younger than me – to get them to see how great hospitality really is!”

The session kicked off with an inspiring video all about hospitality careers, followed by a fun quiz where students were surprised to learn that hospitality has one of the quickest progression rates, offers competitive salaries and has plenty of fields to choose from, whether it be restaurants and hotels, travel and tourism, cruise ships, airlines, food and beverage or the variety of catering opportunities.

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