If anyone had suggested to me a month ago that I’d devote the best part of a sunny summer weekend to watching road cycle racing in preference to gardening I’d have thought them mad! But that’s exactly what I’ve been doing.
Seeing our boys in the Tour de France was the start, and then having the opportunity to be a part of the Olympics right on my doorstep all for the cost of a train fare was too good an opportunity to miss.
The day on Box Hill was perfect; an amazing atmosphere, great weather, brilliant view and not one, not two, but eight chances to see the action on the loop.
Needless to say I was hooked, and was glued to the telly for the entire ladies race on Sunday, despite a hundred and one jobs to do in the garden (and despite what was seen on TV it was actually sunny in Sussex most of the time!).
So what can we learn in business and in particular hospitality, leisure and tourism businesses from this surge of interest in cycling and other sports?
One of the biggest problems I hear is the concern for a lack of young talent joining the industry. So what can we do to emulate the success of attracting new talent to cycling, athletics, or rowing?
There have certainly been some fantastic role models for the next generation. And what an inspiring idea to have youngsters nominated by some of these past winners to light the Olympic flame.
But the sports have gone far beyond this; rather than waiting for the young talent to come and find them, they’ve been out into schools to find them.
We need to follow suit. And not just leave this to the likes of Springboard. We all need to be doing our bit to fly the flag for the industry and inspire youngsters to want to be a part of it. It won’t happen overnight – most of the youngsters competing for the first time this year have been in training for years. Not all will make it of course, but the earlier we can introduce youngsters to the industry and all it has to offer the more likely we are to leave them with a positive perspective and attract new talent.
Parents, teachers, college lecturers, and careers advisers all have a part to play in influencing future careers. What perception do they have of the industry? Let’s do all we can to educate them and ensure that hospitality, leisure and tourism management is given the profile it deserves.
Establish ambassadors who can generate the passion. Offer work placements to schools and colleges, and make these fun and informative. Organise ‘A day in the life’ and open days for schools, colleges and careers advisers for them to get a real feel for the roles and opportunities, and a chance to talk to those who do the jobs.
Offer work placements for universities that give a structured programme and a really in depth view of the options within hospitality management so once they graduate they stay the course. Feedback from graduates who have experienced work placements in a particular segment of the industry are invariably drawn back to the same disciples on graduation. Without this connection it’s all too easy to stray into other industries if a job of their choice is not immediately forthcoming; potential talent maybe lost to the industry forever.
Let’s put on our own show open to all and give everyone a taste and a chance to be a part of this fantastic industry.
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