Leeds first Big Hospitality Conversation has been hailed a success by attendees, with around 200 young people and 100 employers attending the event on Monday 26th September, at The Queens Hotel, Leeds.
The event, organised by The British Hospitality Association and Leeds Hotels and Venues Association, saw hotels and restaurants come together to pledge over 160 opportunities; a mix of work experience, apprenticeships and full-time job roles for 16-24 year olds. The event, supported by LeedsBID, provided a platform for young people to talk with key industry contacts about potential career in hospitality and ask employers directly about opportunities in their businesses.
The aim was to generate job opportunities and showcase hospitality and tourism as an exciting career path by bringing restaurants and hotels including Hilton, Gather & Gather, Twisted Bars and Radisson Blu, together to take part in the ‘Big Hospitality Conversation’ with young people and help reach the target of 60,000 hospitality career starts for young people by the end of 2016.
The British Hospitality Association’s chief executive Ufi Ibrahim said: “We are so glad that Leeds’ Big Hospitality Conversation achieved its aims of alerting young people to the opportunities that exist in the tourism and hospitality industry and of connecting those people to businesses that can help them achieve their ambitions.
“The hospitality business keeps the country working and happy and people who work in it are ambassadors for their town to locals and visitors alike. Getting young people to understand the part they can play in this is vital.”
Steven Hall, general manager of Hilton Leeds City, said: “The event has marked a significant shift in showing young people that hospitality is an incredibly diverse industry, and one which welcomes new talent with open arms.
“What’s clear is that there is an abundance of enthusiastic and hard-working young people in Leeds who are focused on their goals but have perhaps been a little disillusioned about the opportunities available and how accessible hospitality is as a career choice.
“The Big Hospitality Conversation has allowed us, as employers, to find out exactly what young people think about the industry and also how we can change our approaches when hiring fresh talent. We hope that this event will inspire more young people to learn about hospitality and discover the wide range of prospects available.”
Wayne Topley, general manager of The Queens Hotel, said: “Events such as this provide a platform to let everyone know what great businesses we have here and it was an absolute honour to host the very first Big Hospitality Conversation at The Queens.
“Personally, I am passionate about the industry and honestly believe that the future of its success lies in the young people I was fortunate enough to meet, which is why we as a hotel pledged five places at the event.
“At the very start of this year QHotels pledged 100 apprenticeships across the hotel group and we now have 75 positions taken up. In 2017 we will be doubling this to 200 apprenticeships across the group in order to take on more young people, so now really is the time to get a ‘foot in the (hotel) door’!
Peter Cox, course leader of BA (Hons) Hospitality Business Management, said: “The hospitality business is booming and there is an ever increasing demand for plucky entrepreneurs to enter the industry at a young age, and make the most of the opportunities available.
“Progression can be quick too, with many young people progressing to senior roles still in their early 20’s. So we at Leeds Beckett University encourage our students to take the skills they learn on the course, into a practical environment as early as possible.
“Events such as The Big Hospitality Conversation are the perfect platform for young people to speak directly to a number of employers, without having to go through a gruelling interview process, and we’re now looking forward to seeing more of these events each year as Leeds continues to grow as a business and leisure tourist destination.”
The Big Hospitality Conversation is a nationwide campaign led by the British Hospitality Association in partnership with Springboard, National Apprenticeship Service and the Department for Work and Pensions.