Trade slams First Bus recruitment ad

Recruitment campaign labelled ‘distasteful’ by hospitality sector

A First Bus featuring the recruitment advert was spotted in Edinburgh.

SCOTLAND’S hospitality sector has hit out at bus operator First Bus over a ‘distasteful’ recruitment campaign which it says reinforces negative – and false – stereotypes about the on-trade.

Targeting workers in various industries, including hospitality, the bus company’s recruitment drive poses rhetorical questions such as, ‘Bar work boring?’; ‘Chef hours too much?’; ‘Call centre low paid?’.

It then goes on to urge potential applicants to “try something different”.

Stephanie Wade, chief executive of hospitality training and recruitment firm Hi!, told SLTN that First Bus has gone about trying to attract new recruits from the hospitality sector “all the wrong way and has done nothing but cause offence to those of us who are proud to serve our customers”.

“It’s really crazy for a national company to have made such a big error,” said Wade.

“We’ve spent so long trying to make our industry better, but they’ve just picked on a few things which perhaps aren’t even true to try and attract people to their industry.

“To say bartending is ‘boring’ is so stupid.”

The recruitment campaign was branded “distasteful” by the Scottish Licensed Trade Association’s Paul Waterson.

Paul Waterson of the Scottish Licensed Trade Association also criticised the firm’s campaign.

He said: “I think any [company] that’s trying to make themselves look good by bringing down some other profession is wrong and is very distasteful.

“I wouldn’t like to think anybody in our trade would look upon jobs at First Bus as being boring, and I can’t quite understand how anybody could say working in our business would be bored.

“I think it’s very distasteful and lacks class.”

Willie Macleod, executive director for Scotland at UK Hospitality, said: “I think it’s seeking to exploit negative stereotypes which are not actually correct. I think it’s because they recognise that we have highly skilled, adaptable staff with particularly great customer care skills, as well as technical skills.

“I wish they wouldn’t target our staff, but I think we have to commend them for recognising the excellence of our staff in terms of their skills base and customer care capabilities.”

Macleod added: “I think everyone is beginning to encounter the recruitment issues brought about by Brexit, with the potential ending of free movement.”

Ryan James of Glasgow Restaurant Association and owner of the Two Fat Ladies restaurants, agreed that First Bus’s tactics could be driven by a struggle to recruit quality staff.

However, he said for the company “to target other sectors is a bit mean”.

He added: “Is bar work boring? Well, it isn’t actually – it’s quite exciting.”

A spokesman for First Bus said that the recruitment campaign, which was spotted on the back of one of the fleet’s buses in Edinburgh, “is a regional one from the Bristol area and one that is not used in any of our Scottish operations”.

“Any reference to this campaign will be removed from the vehicle in question, which was transferred to us from a sister depot in England.”