The BHA’s nationwide campaign Big Hospitality Conversation sees great support from the tourism minister Tracy Crouch MP, former tourism minister Helen Grant MP for Maidstone & The Weald, and Damian Green MP Ashford.
Over 100 hospitality and tourism businesses from across the region will come together on 27 January at Ashford International Q Hotel to pledge career opportunities for young Kent jobseekers at the 37th Big Hospitality Conversation.
The hospitality and tourism industry is the UK’s 4th largest employment sector accounting for 10% of the national workforce and with growth significantly outpacing the rest of the economy the need for recruitment and retention in the industry is vital to the UK economy. This is particularly true for Kent where industry supports 67,000 jobs and contributes £3.4bn to the Kent and Medway economy.
Few other industries can boast the immense career opportunities and prospects offered by hospitality and tourism to people of all skills levels and qualifications. In addition to tackling youth unemployment, the Big Hospitality Conversation targets the creation of meaningful career paths, apprenticeships and structured work placements. At the same time, it informs jobseekers of the wide array of opportunities available ranging from front and back of house to IT, media, Human resources, finance and many others.
Helen Grant MP for Maidstone & The Weald and Minister for Tourism 2013-2015 said: “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. It is working already, creating 47,000 new jobs, apprenticeships and structured work placements since July 2012.
But we must keep up the momentum if the industry is to achieve its objective of 60,000 UK hospitality career opportunities for 16 – 24 year olds by the end of this year. That is why I highly commend this event in Ashford and I wish everyone an enjoyable and successful day.”
“We are pleased to see continued ministerial support of the industry’s efforts to fight youth unemployment and we celebrate the collaboration between the hospitality industry and the government. 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 career in this vibrant industry,”said Ufi Ibrahim, CEO of the British Hospitality Association.
Young jobseekers will hear from Kent raised TV chef Rosemary Shrager, who owns the Rosemary Cookery School; and a celebrity chef and owner of Rocksalt, Mark Sargeant, who has previously supported the campaign speaking at The Restaurant Big Hospitality Conversation at London City Hall last September.
Mark Sargeant, owner of the Rocksalt Folkestone said: “I'm so proud to have been invited to talk about my career and hopefully inspire lots of young people to become involved in my glorious industry.”
Alongside national campaign partners Springboard, Department for Works and Pensions, National Apprenticeship Service and Jobcentre Plus the event has seen exceptional local support from one of the country’s leading destination management organisations, Visit Kent, who has been striving hard to encourage young people to consider hospitality and tourism as prospective career path.
Anne Pierce, Chief Executive of Springboard, said: “Springboard is proud to be one of the founder partners of the Big Hospitality Conversation. It is recognised that work experience plays a key part in influencing a person’s career choice and this is why we are taking a lead role in this initiative.”
The event will also feature the Employability Passport which has been developed by The Hospitality, Transport and Tourism (HTT) Guild to help young people showcase skills and experiences they have gained whilst completing the passport to potential employers.
The event is sponsored by Visit Kent, Q Hotels and Southeastern Railway who have donated 250 rail passes to get young jobseekers to the event.