Food Service Circle: How the Catering Businesses Extend Support to Former Employees in the UK
Date : Sep 22, 2020
Author : Isaac Addo
The UK has emerged as one of the biggest casualties in the global employment market after job vacancies have plummeted to 42% in the first quarter of 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic continues disrupting the UK job sphere. Energy, hospitality, and administration vacancies have stooped down to the lowest in 8 years. The hospitality and catering businesses have so far lost 74% or three-quarters of employees due to country-wide closures.
These figures have been revealed by the job search engine Adzuna. Catering companies are witnessing massive reductions in jobs on the global level too, falling over to 49% in the first quarter.
Andrew Hunter, Co-Founder of Adzuna, observes, “The economy has been hugely impacted by the measures to control the spread of the virus in recent weeks. The UK has lost a staggering 42% of vacancies over an eight-week period. This is another blow for the UK, which is predicted to see unemployment sour by more than 2 million and the economy shrink by 35% according to the Office for Budget Responsibility”.
To help out former employees who have been made redundant due to the COVID-19 pandemic, catering businesses UK-wide are collaborating through a support platform.
Food Service Circle – A unique initiative to help former employees
Food Service Circle (FSC) is an initiative created by UKHospitality’s Foodservice Forum. More than 20 catering businesses and contract catering companies have partnered to launch this support network. FSC will enable affected employees to stay connected. It will also provide the resources to continue upskilling themselves while they seek employment.
Wendy Bartlett, Board Member of UK Hospitality, said, “It has been heart-breaking to see how the pandemic has impacted some of the incredibly talented and loyal team members across all of our organisations.
We all have a real sense of duty to the people who have worked so hard to make our businesses the successes they have been, that’s why it was important for all of us to create this cohesive support network. I must credit my competitors for coming together in this crisis to support our industry.”
Salient Features of Food Service Circle
FSC was launched on August 17th, 2020. It can be accessed at the foodservicecircle.com
The platform offers free training, counsel, job opportunities, and advice for former employees and team leaders.
The platform will broadcast webinars and guidance for people seeking employment. Topics such as CV writing, leveraging the power of social media, how to search and land the right role, and latest health and safety developments shall be covered in these webinars.
Apart from this, leaders from catering businesses that have partnered to launch FSC will also host insightful sessions to keep job seekers up to date on developments within their own business and the catering service UK-wide.
Food Service Circle will act as a one-stop-shop for all former employees. The catering businesses involved with FSC are:
- ABM Catering
- Bartlett Mitchell
- Blue Apple
- Celtic Catering
- Genuine Dining
- Houston and Hawkes
- Susa Comms
Before the pandemic, the FSM sector in the UK employed more than 293,000 people with a collective turnover of £10.9bn, according to a 2019 report by UKHospitality Food Service Management Market.
How is the Hospitality and Catering Industry Adapting to Survive the COVID-19 Pandemic?
Any discussion of things returning to normal, before the COVID-19 outset, is redundant. The hospitality industry will have to operate within a new normal society. And the key to surviving there will be an adaptation, adjustment to transformed market conditions, and changed customer requirements.
Let’s take a macro view of the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the world economy.
IMF – World Economic Outlook April 2020
According to the IMF, the Global Lockdown will be the worst recession since the Great Depression. It will have far severe implications than the Global Crisis in 2009. The Eurozone GDP could fall by 9% in 2020, according to Christine Lagarde, President, European Central Bank.
So, the UK economy is contracting. The hospitality industry is already smaller, and it will continue being the worst hit. A survey by UKHosptality shows a ‘worst-case scenario’ by December – down by 61% for the same period in 2019.
Not just the industry leaders, but even customers are unsure when and how they want to return to public spaces – IF they want to return to public spaces. Here are the results of a survey by YouGov:
Few weddings; Even Fewer Attendees
Weddings account for approximately 50% of catering service UK-wide. As a result of COVID-19 and social distancing, several weddings have either been cancelled or postponed. Even with things resuming to the new normal, hygiene concerns will shift the focus from elaborate spreads to wrapped servings, frequently sanitised serving stations and the comeback of plated desserts.
With fewer events, catering companies are adapting by offering meal kits, take-out meals, and groceries to stay afloat. The menus have been redesigned to include simple meals suitable for rewarming at homes.
Some catering businesses have partnered with local farmers to provide fresh produce and meat to customers. Many contract catering companies have also begun using their facilities to prepare cooked meals for essential workers.
However, even as countries ease lockdowns, mass gatherings will remain restricted for some time. This could result in continued low demand for catering businesses.
Concerns Over Health and Safety
Catering companies will have to expand significantly in their efforts to aid the health and safety of their employees. Masks, gloves, and sanitisers should be made available to everyone. Businesses will only be allowed to cater to events if they adhere strictly to safety and hygiene standards. Thermal screening and testing, if possible, of individuals who come inside facilities should also be in place.
Every surface that is frequently touched should be diligently cleaned. The companies will also have to transition to single-use plates, cutlery, and utensils. Finally, companies will also have to ensure that social distancing guidelines are in place and are being followed.
While FSC is a good start, catering businesses are going to need an exit strategy from the pandemic’s side-effects. They must think of measures to revamp their operations, with a few layoffs as possible. They should maintain contact with the usual customers and conduct market studies to decide what approach would work best in navigating the new economy.
Hopefully, the hospitality and catering businesses start thriving again. Food is the ingredient that binds us all together. After all, in G.B. Shaw’s words, there is no sincere love than the love of food!