Bristol companies pledge over 1,000 new work opportunities for 16-24 year olds

Bristol hospitality businesses including restaurants, hotels and catering establishments from across the region came together yesterday, January 13th 2015, at the Mercure hotel on Redcliffe Parade, to pledge over 1,000 job opportunities, apprenticeships and work placements for young job seekers at the Big Hospitality Conversation.

The Big Hospitality Conversation is a nationwide campaign led by the British Hospitality Association in partnership with Springboard, Barclays, Believe in Young People, National Apprenticeship Service, and the DWP. Events like this offer a firm commitment to creating job opportunities for 16-24 year olds. Over 36,000 job opportunities have so far been created at events like the one at Mercure and the aim is for the hospitality industry to create up to 60,000 jobs for young people by 2016.

This is the 22nd Big Hospitality Conversation to date and kick-started an ambitious 2015 programme seeks to generate job opportunities across the UK at venues including Tottenham, Nottingham, Sheffield, Newcastle, Swansea, Belfast, Lambeth, Cardiff, Hackney, Legoland, Llandudno, Dundee / Perth, Preston / Blackpool, Leeds, Birmingham, Exeter, Maidstone, and the Isle of Wight.

Josh Eggleton, Michelin Starred Head Chef at Chew Magna’s The Pony & Trap, who spoke at the event said: “I have transformed an early love of food and cooking into a career as a chef, and my advice to any young person starting out is to make a career out of something you love. My work is born from my passion and experience and in this industry experience is everything, so say yes to every opportunity which comes your way and embrace work placements and apprenticeships, as they are fun and useful.”

George Ferguson, Mayor of Bristol said: “Bristol is a young city which is really going places. My advice to any young person starting out in their career is to aim high for yourself, for your colleagues and your city, and it will serve you well. The hospitality industry is a fantastic way into employment and is creating opportunities for young people starting out. It’s vitally important that businesses continue to provide young people with opportunities and a start, because if we start to make a better city now it will serve future generations too.”

Heiko Figge, who oversees the MREF Hotels portfolio, opened the event. He said: “Bristol and the South West have one of the largest hotel and restaurant sectors in the UK in terms of both employees and contribution to the local economy. The city’s visitor economy continues to grow steadily, with a visitor spend in excess of £1billion annually, while the city is the fourth most visited in England. For young people in Bristol starting out in their career, hospitality is an obvious choice. With one of the largest hotel and restaurant sectors in the UK there is a lot of opportunity in the city.”

Ufi Ibrahim, CEO of the British Hospitality Association which is a long-time trailblazer for showcasing the spectrum of roles and the opportunity for development in the hospitality industry, said: “Conversations can change a life. At each and every Big Hospitality Conversation, each person in the room has the potential to change their life or someone else’s life for the better, and each and every person attending a Big Conversation event is an ambassador for the hospitality industry. The BHA wants politicians to understand how important the hospitality industry is and to help Government understand that this industry starts conversations which can transform people’s lives.”

Anne Pierce MBE, CEO Springboard said: “There is no substitute for hands on experience in the hospitality industry and lots of people don’t know what happens ‘behind the scenes’ so work placements and apprenticeships are vital. It is important that businesses make as many meaningful work placements and opportunities available to young people as possible. The Big Hospitality Conversation is a great way to bring together industry leaders and young people to create a meaningful dialogue resulting in many unemployed and disadvantaged young people gaining vital work experience, apprenticeship and employment opportunities.”

Graham Clapp, Operations Manager at the Department of Work & Pensions said: “There are not enough events that connect young people with employers, which is what makes the Big Hospitality Conversation stand apart. Apprenticeships are a vital way for young people to find work.”

Jacqui Allum, Director of The Big Hospitality Conversation said: “The Bristol Big Hospitality Conversation generated over 1,000 work placements, apprenticeships and job opportunity across the city which is an excellent result. Hospitality is a growing industry which is consistently resilient to economic fluctuations and Bristol is ideally placed for attracting domestic and overseas tourists. We’re delighted with the response and pledges made by prosperous local hospitality and tourism businesses who are seeking to attract young people.”

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