Coverpoint Foodservice Consultants’ Jonathan Doughty will take over as the worldwide president of the FCSI in 2014 — and one of his first priorities will be to find a way of getting more young people into the profession.
Doughty, who has already led the UK and Ireland, and EAME divisions of the FCSI, said that engaging with and employing as many young consultants as possible throughout the FCSI membership would be the “main thrust” of his work when he starts the post in January.
While he acknowledged that there had been rallying calls of this type before, he said it would be the first time that it has become central to the Worldwide agenda, warning that “without young people our Society will die”.
Writing in his latest blog entry, Doughty delivered a frank assessment of what steps thinks the FCSI needs to take to safeguard its future.
He said: “I am hugely appreciative of the elder statesman who founded the FCSI, those that brought it to the UK and have grown it so carefully. I am also proud to have played my part in the UK and Ireland local unit and then the EAME division, but as I have moved through the Society the one thing that screams at you is the need for change. We are becoming less relevant to the world in which we live, less relevant to the young people of today and certainly less appealing to certain clients who can buy our services from a multitude of other sources.”
Doughty admitted the scale of the problem hit home at the FCSI’s EAME Conference in Warsaw in September. He said that while the event allowed it to recognise the efforts of many dedicated and long-serving stalwarts of the FCSI, the celebrations were accompanied by a “tinge of sadness and concern” at the lack of young faces in the audience.
He said the talent was out there, but the industry needed to find a way of getting it converted from ‘student’ into ‘young consultant’.
He wrote: “One of the problems is the very nature of the industry in which we work. There are some larger players, but the majority are smaller companies and sole practitioners who are constantly trying to cope with the massive fluctuations in their business demands. They are not likely to recruit and are less likely to take on those that require training to ‘get them up to standard’.
“I don’t subscribe to this view and in many ways I think it shows a lack of foresight and business planning. Many people who operate small businesses do not want to grow, they happily express the desire to stay exactly as they are, but they are the same ones that need to generate significant financial benefit from their day to day jobs as they will have nothing to sell at the end of it!”
In terms of the global presidency role, Doughty said he was “incredibly proud” to be given the post, which will run for a two-year term.
He used the blog to list six things that he feels would make the FCSI more relevant and vibrant, and help it to grow and become the global force it should be, but he stressed it was in no particular order:
– Recruit bright young people who have talent but not experience.
– Engage with industry bodies to share and develop knowledge and direction.
– Spend time with equipment and service partners to really understand what they offer.
– Reinforce the ‘badge of quality’ that the FCSI stands for.
– Demonstrate that we are the leading organisation in our field.
– Provide support to members with a pool of quality candidates, ready to work.