The event took place on 27th January; The Big Hospitality Conversation saw more than 100 young Kent jobseekers attend the main conference and a further 250 at the careers marketplace event.
Organised by the British Hospitality Association, this nationwide campaign aims to tackle youth unemployment/ and to encourage the creation of meaningful career paths, jobs, apprenticeships, and structured work placements for under 25s in the tourism and hospitality industry.
The Kent event earned the support of the tourism minister, Tracy Crouch MP, who created a video message for the delegates.
CEO of the BHA, Ufi Ibrahim welcomed the continued ministerial support regarding the hospitality and tourism industry’s efforts to fight youth unemployment, and the collaboration with the government. She commented: “The Big Hospitality Conversation not only offers young people living in Kent a chance to meet great employers in the region but to leave the day with a career in this vibrant industry”.
Jonathan Neame, Chairman of Visit Kent and CEO of Shepherd Neame, referred to the UK’s hospitality and tourism industry as being world class, giving his top reasons as to why young people should choose it as a career.
Mark Sargeant, owner of Rocksalt in Folkestone hosted a Q&A session following his speech taking questions from the audience and Twitter. His impromptu session boosted the already popular #BHConversation hashtag further, resulting in it being featured as one of Twitter’s top 50 trending topics of the day.
Accounting for 10% of the national workforce the Tourism and Hospitality sector offers significant career opportunities to people of all ages, skill levels and qualifications. It is the UK’s 4th largest employment sector, and one of its fastest growing, hence the need for recruitment and retention in the industry is vital to the UK economy. In Kent alone, the industry supports 67,000 jobs and contributes £3.4bn to the economy.
The Big Conversation has been also supported by Helen Grant MP for Maidstone & The Weald and Minister for Tourism 2013-2015 who commented: “The Big Conversation is all about making sure our hospitality sector employers and potential young employees are brought together to generate mutual opportunity and prosperity”.
Sam Coulstock, Head of Special Projects at Springboard who helped organise the event said “Hospitality & Tourism businesses in Kent really come out in force to inspire young people from across the county to find employment, work experience and apprenticeships. It was great to see so many young people get excited about the potential careers available to them and meet employers recruiting on the day”
Q Hotels made the biggest pledge of the day, with creating over 300 work experience opportunities across all their hotels in the UK.
The event was sponsored by Visit Kent, Q Hotels, and Southeastern who donated 250 rail passes to get young unemployed jobseekers to the event. The Big Hospitality Conversation is supported by national campaign partners Springboard, Department for Works and Pensions, National Apprenticeship Service and Jobcentre Plus.
The careers fair that was attended by more than 250 young people met employers like:
• Canterbury University
• Compass Group
• Costa Coffee
• Local colleges – MidKent, East Kent and North Kent
• Premier Inn
• Q Hotels
• Shepard’s Naeme
• Umbrella Training & Employment Solutions
• Whitbread Restaurants
• Wine & Spirit Education Trust
• Yo Sushi
• Springboard’s CareerScope
• National Apprenticeship Service
• Job Centre Plus
• HIT Training
Umbrella Training & Employments Solutions, Managing Director, Adele Oxberry said: “It’s been an excellent day, with over 95 applications for apprenticeships and work experience with us – it’s been a great day for Kent and a great day for hospitality – we have all made a difference”.