I read an interesting article the other day which got me thinking about my first job: waitressing in the village bistro. Latest figures show that the number of teenagers with Saturday jobs has considerably declined over the past 15 years in the UK. In an era of recession when finding work is challenging anyway, young people are struggling to get vital experience for their CVs.
I was lucky with my first job. The restaurant was a small, local establishment, renowned in the area for the quality of its food, but more importantly its welcoming atmosphere and exceptional service. This last point makes me laugh as many of the waiting staff were local school kids from the village (me included) working part time for the good tips.
So what was the real secret to its success? In my opinion, it was a good place to work. The owners were good leaders, every evening mingling with guests and showing how things should be done. They entrusted us with important jobs should we prove capable (a promotion from glass steaming or cutlery polishing to preparing desserts!) and understood our need for flexibility.
How much of a difference does valuing staff make in the service sector? Many people’s experiences of their first jobs show quite the opposite – low wages, rigid rules and poor conditions. Most of the pubs in my village have closed down now so many of the young people might not find out.