The Big Hospitality Conversation, which took place on 2 April at The Premier Inn, Bournemouth, brought together more than 70 local hospitality businesses with unemployed young people from jobcentreplus, Bournemouth and Poole College and the South West Regional Assessment Centre to pledge apprenticeships, work experience placements and youth employment opportunities.
Some 41 apprenticeships, 69 work experience positions and 48 youth employment opportunities were created. All the pledges will be followed up by Springboard. In addition, Premier Inn has pledged 90 apprenticeships for the region, and has committed to achieving 150 apprentices this year.
The Big Hospitality Conversation is led by the British Hospitality Association in partnership with the charity Springboard, Business in the Community (BiTC) and Barclays, and is part of a nationwide programme that aims to create 60,000 new job opportunities for 16-24 year olds by 2015. Some 34,000 have already been created.
The Mayor of Bournemouth, Cllr Dr Rodney Cooper opened and spoke at the event and said: “It was good to see so many people at the event. There were both representatives from the hospitality industry who are clearly willing to offer work placements and apprenticeships, as well as the youths who, judging from those who I spoke with, are keen to take the offers up. I have seen instances of both work placements and apprenticeships already happening in Bournemouth and it will be good to see the offer expanded. On behalf of the youth of Bournemouth, I thank the organisers for bringing the event to Bournemouth.”
Samantha Richardson, director of the National Coastal Tourism Academy which has job creation as a key objective and which helped promote the event, commented: “The creation of any new job opportunities in the tourism industry is vitally important in tackling youth unemployment, but to have achieved nearly 160 in one day is fantastic and demonstrates the concern among the local hospitality industry.
“The event raised two pivotal considerations. First, Bournemouth and the surrounding areas are excellent locations for entry into the hospitality industry and second, there’s never been a better time to join the profession.
“We have more than 21,000 people employed in the sector locally, more than 260 accommodation providers and around 300 new beds coming on-stream shortly. The industry offers enormous scope from catering and front-of-house to IT, human resources and management. What’s more, skills gained from apprenticeships are highly transferable, offering plenty of national opportunities.”
Ufi Ibrahim, Chief Executive of the British Hospitality Industry, said: “We are delighted with the number of young people who attended this event. This demonstrates the desire of young people to learn more about the hospitality industry and of young people to gain valuable insight. Research shows that the hospitality industry has the potential to generate over 200,000 jobs by 2015 which is half of the government’s Youth Contract target for the next three years. There are opportunities out there for young people. “Three young people, Oliver Bull, Imogen Crump and William Sloan who had all gained work through apprenticeship schemes, chaired the event.
A panel of four unemployed young people explained the barriers young people face in finding employment.
Josh, who had been unemployed for two years but who is now working as a commis chef at the Premier Inn, Poole commented: “One of the most difficult things is not receiving responses from employers. I applied for more than 200 jobs and had about 50 responses. Getting an apprenticeship really helps your confidence, it makes you feel wanted.”
Ed Pyke, Cluster General Manager for Premier Inn said: “We are proud to be an employer with a strong social responsibility agenda, and are committed to sharing our knowledge and success with other hoteliers and hospitality businesses on the power of combating youth unemployment, offering apprenticeships and providing work experience. Together as a community we have the power to change lives and provide real impact to our young unemployed people.”