Yesterday, young jobseekers convened at Bluestone in Pembrokeshire for the 44th Big Hospitality Conversation, where hospitality businesses shared their knowledge and passion for the industry.
As the industry takes on the challenge to recruit more UK workers to the sector, the event provided an opportunity for industry leaders to meet directly with groups of young people to discuss youth unemployment, the challenges they face and the importance of work experience and apprenticeships.
The nationwide campaign, led by UKHospitality (formed as a result of the merger of the British Hospitality Association and Association for Licenced Multiple Retailers) in collaboration with the Department of Work and Pensions, aims to tackle youth unemployment and encourage the creation of meaningful career paths in the hospitality and tourism industry.
Kate Nicholls, Chief Executive of UKHospitality said:
“This in now the 44th Big Hospitality Conversation to date and has connected over 3,500 hospitality leaders with young people, which has helped to deliver over 67,000 new careers starts; including apprenticeships, jobs and work placements.”
The event included speeches from business leaders within the hospitality industry. Chief Executive of Bluestone, William McNamara OBE, gave an inspiring talk about challenging the perception of the industry, whilst Kate Beynon, Head of HR at Folly Farm gave a passionate speech about her own story and career in hospitality.
Bluestone’s CEO William McNamara said:
“The hospitality industry is immensely important to Pembrokeshire, so it was a pleasure for Bluestone to be asked to host the 44th Big Hospitality Conversation.
“The hospitality industry can offer a unique opportunity for individuals to start off in an entry level position, which over time with the right attitude and work ethic will enable you to work your way up through the business. This is something we are proud to offer at Bluestone, in the last year alone we facilitated over 85 internal promotions and these opportunities are supported by us through training and personal development programmes. I hope that the day will inspire these young people to look at the industry as the gateway to an exciting career path.” Young people also heard from their peers who sat on three panels to discuss work experience, apprenticeships and youth unemployment. Conversations included the challenges jobseekers face, such as transport, how the search for a meaningful job can have an impact on confidence and how work experience and apprenticeships have helped the panellists find a career path they enjoy.”
Wendy Weber, Health, Care and Commercial Enterprise at Pembrokeshire College said:
“Over recent years apprenticeships have become a real priority with the Welsh Government investing in excess of £100 million into supporting their development. There has never been a better time for young people to look for apprenticeship opportunities as a way of achieving the vocational skills they need in a setting that is not just classroom- based – and get paid whilst working. The evidence is out there to show that apprentices add real value to businesses and should be seen as an essential component if they are looking to expand and prosper well into the future.”
What was a lively end to the sessions, saw young people and businesses sit down together for the Big Conversation. Table discussions flourished as the young jobseekers were able to sit down and tell the employers first-hand about what they are looking for and the barriers they face and the businesses were able offer insight into what a career with them would look like.
The day ended with a careers fair where the young jobseekers had the opportunity to come away with interview training from Barclays through their LifeSkills programme and Workways+ were on hand to review CVs.
Participating businesses included: Bluestone, Barclays, Folly Farm, Workways+, Pembrokeshire College, St Brides Spa Hotel, Seren Collection, Stackpole Estate, Adventure Beyond, Templeton, and more.