Hospitality- A viable Career Option

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Angela Ferguson

Hospitality is a vibrant, viable career option, and despite the ups and downs of the past year I believe it’s a career that will never let you down.

Hospitality is sometimes unfairly viewed as transitional, temporary work or a short-term job. In my view, choosing a career in hospitality opens the doors to a world of opportunity both locally and abroad. Hospitality is an industry where there’s limitless opportunity to build your future, continually develop, follow your passion and navigate your own path.  

Even in a Covid environment with New Zealand borders remaining closed for now, our local hospitality industry is flourishing and the demand for skilled workers is high. Now is the time to set the record straight about what it means to pursue a career in hospitality, and encourage our young people to find their future in an industry that’s burgeoning in New Zealand, and particularly in Taranaki.

Pre-Covid, Taranaki experienced the second highest growth in regional hospitality spend in the country, up 7 per cent on the previous year. Diners spent $234 million in our region.

Despite the border remaining closed for the time being, hospitality and tourism sectors in Taranaki remain buoyant with domestic tourists venturing out and taking Tourism New Zealand’s new slogan of “doing something new” on board.

We are a resilient community that supports local. We have an agile attitude that means when things change, we’re ready to adapt. One example is Owner of the Bach on Breakwater and WITT graduate Rahul Radhakrishnan, who was recognised at the Restaurant Association Resilience Awards for his outstanding community spirit after starting a $5 takeaway service for essential workers during Alert Level 3.

The pandemic has created some negative publicity with people believing that job prospects are limited. And I despair to hear that some parents and decision influencers are discouraging young people from taking up Hospitality studies. In fact, now is the critical time to be preparing for what is going to be a tsunami of people coming to New Zealand when the borders open, with employment and business opportunities overflowing.

At the Tourism Industry Aotearoa Summit in November, new Tourism Minister Stuart Nash expressed his ambition that when global borders open, New Zealand is considered by the world's most discerning travellers as one of the top three places in the world to visit.

There isn’t a week that goes by without a local business contacting WITT’s Hospitality department looking for staff.

Most of the successful people I know in the industry are more motivated by their passion than their pay cheque. They’re seeking (and finding) job satisfaction every day, whether they find their spark working with people, coffee or food.

I started my chef training when I was 17 and have never looked back, it took me into a role as the private chef for the New Zealand High Commissioner in Australia, owning my own award-winning business, becoming a tutor and now in a leadership position in an industry I love.  That’s just my story, there are many more successful Taranaki icons out there with their own success stories.  Their stories are woven into the fabric of our region’s longstanding local favourites and wonderful new establishments.

Budding bakers, baristas, chefs, restaurateurs and managers have the opportunity to train locally at WITT, learning from industry-experienced experts with impressive CVs. WITT offers an expanding variety of hospitality programmes ranging from an Introduction to Hospitality, to a Graduate Diploma in Hospitality Management. Learners can study full time or ‘earn while they learn’, studying part-time around employment.

WITT is hosting an Info Day on 4 February from 3-6pm at its Bell Street campus, and I welcome anyone wanting to know about Taranaki’s vibrant hospitality industry and how you can pursue your own hospitality career. Come and find out why it’s the career that won’t let you down.

Angela Ferguson is the Hospitality Department Lead at WITT.


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